Technology can be fatal. And very revealing. When honesty has almost disappeared from public service, technology has returned a glimmer of hope to the electorates. In a Muslim country in South East Asia, technology has brought the downfall of the Health Minister, while embroiling an ex-Prime Minister, former Deputy Prime Minister, ministers, former Chief Judge, lawyers, judges, and prominent businessmen in a scandal of the highest degree. Forget about Watergate, Kennedy’s assassination, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Princess Diana’s death, or Bush’s handling of the Iraqi attack. If this country were bigger or more important in stature, it would have been the political scandal of the year, implicating a whole nation – the government, the judiciary, and the lawmakers. The device needed was merely a camera.

At the start of the year, the Health Minister admitted in public that he was the man in the sex video being circulated in the country. He was caught naked on video having sex with a woman who was not his wife committing various sexual acts including oral sex. Other than the size of his penis, jokes abounded on whether the Sex Minister, oops, the Health Minister used a condom when having sex. And Viagra must have been easily accessible or even free. A political enemy might have installed a hidden CCTV camera in the hotel where he committed the act. He resigned from all party and parliamentary posts immediately after the confession. But being so ready in admitting his mistakes and manly in accepting responsibility for them, he is now being hailed as a hero by diehard supporters. Women have so little spine or voice in this patriarchal and chauvinistic society that adultery by the man is acceptable (even to the wife). It would have been totally unacceptable if the Health Minister were a woman. Clucking with sympathy and admiration for him, ministers in the government, including the prime Minister, nevertheless held their faces solemn and declared that a minister must be a role model and a good example to the people. Thus, the Health Minister was ousted from politics by his lust, a camera, DVD duplicating machines, and the Internet. Technology has its moments.

In the same month, a royal commission inquiry is being held to investigate another video. While there is no nude or pornographic scene, the content is equally revealing and exciting. In the 14-minute video clip, a lawyer was caught speaking on the phone making arrangements about the appointment of the Chief Judge. While the witness stand glitters with all the biggest names in the country, a subtle gag order has been imposed on the public so that the media reports the news in the front page but the rest of the country seems asleep or lulled into apathy by some powerful drugs. There is not much hue or cry for a political scandal of such a scale. In fact, the ruling party deems it fit to continue with election plans this year. The ex-Prime Minster took the stand and claimed forgetfulness as his excuse besides arguing in defiance that he didn’t have to explain his decisions to anybody. But is the PM above the law and royally? Doesn’t he have to explain his actions in a royal inquiry or court especially when there is suspicion of illegal hanky-panky? It was an unforgettable lesson on how to give testimony in court, deny any wrongdoing in the face of incriminating evidence, lie blatantly, claim ignorance and feign drunkenness. The political scandal came to light because a lawyer was careless and arrogant enough to talk about the political brokering on the phone in front of his client who claimed that he accidentally recoded the incident on his new digital camera. Evidence on video could not be easily brushed aside. The fact that a lawyer had knowledge of secret information not accessible to the public and that the information given on the phone turned out to be 100 percent accurate requires explanation. Moreover, the lawyer seemed to have very close relationships with the names he mentioned in his phone conversation, amongst which included the former Chief Judge, ministers, the PM, and titled businessmen. Were judicial appointments rigged and court decisions biased? Were the government, the judiciary and the parliament controlled by the same party? The implications are wide and phenomenal.

And we thought Malaysia is boring and restful. The camera is truly mightier than the sword.