Frogs for 32 million Ringgit Malaysia ( 7.5 m USD or 6.4 m Euros ) ?
Apart from the diminutive of frog, froggy in the English language is an ethnic slur against the French. But frog meat is not only popular in France, it is a delicacy all over Asia. And in Southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia, it is also a widespread name, not a compliment, though, for opportunistic politicians who jump from one political party to the other. Since few parties here have a distinctive program or ideology, this special political flexibility is rather widespread. But it is not that easy to explain it to the voters who suspect that there are financial considerations behind such a move.
The wafer thin parliamentary majority of the Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has been questioned from the beginning of his term which in turn encouraged the opponents of his premiership outside and even inside his coalition. The biggest faction of this coalition has been the former long-term ruling party UMNO, the United Malays National Organization, and threats to leave it and thereby force the Prime Minister to step down are going on for a while already. Party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi thought the time was ripe when he announced the withdrawal of eleven UMNO MPs earlier this week. But the situation remains unclear because his grip on the party discipline looks as shaky as never before, and Muhyiddin managed to convince the King that a confidence vote should be postponed to September. Time enough for many Malaysian observers to allow him to buy over enough members of parliament for the maintenance of his majority.
And here comes a rather interesting and intriguing contribution from a man who probably knows best how to buy over parliamentarians, Zahid Hamidi, the experienced UMNO leader. It is not that much the fact that financial transactions are part of the frogging procedure but the price tag suggested by Zahid. In a Facebook post he describes the per kg price range of different meats in the Malaysian marketplace as follows:
- Chicken 7 RM (Ringgit Malaysia)
- Goat 35 RM
- Beef 32 RM
- Frog 32 million RM
UMNO was for decades a master of money politics where even support for internal leadership positions had to be “facilitated” with cash on hand. Publishing the putative price tag for frog meat this way on Facebook can be seen as a blow to Muhyiddin, but for a man who is facing a long list of corruption charges like Zahid is is quite daring on top.