A cautionary tale from Aeneid January 16, 2007Posted by elizabethwong in Economy, Malaysia, Note2Self.
Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.
Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even bearing gifts.
(Virgil, Aeneid II.49)
In our line of work, we have to be careful with the information we receive or hear.
Sometimes it may be genuine, but often times it’s just a ruse or a diversion.
Take for instance, in 1998.
My office received a stack of ‘documents’ through post, detailing the alleged shenanigans of then deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. We didn’t bite then. This later became a book titled, “50 Dalil …”, which came with a complementary ruby-lipped mock-Chanel temptress.
Six years later, we saw the author of ’50 Dalil’ at Anwar’s house, on the day of his release, teary-eyed and asking for forgiveness.
But at times, the information we get may be genuine.
Again:- Flashback to September 1998. Several days after Anwar was detained under the Internal Security Act and was incommunicado, we received another envelope.
Out fell a single sheet. It was thin, carbon-typed, on the letterhead of Bukit Aman Police Headquarters, detailing how Anwar was bashed up during the very night of his arrest (At that time, typewriters were still extensively used). The letter pointed the finger at then Inspector-General of Police, with a few other names of those who were present (Some are still around!).
It is still stored in our filing cabinet til today.
At that time, my colleague, Arul, and I debated at length, examined the letter minutely, down to the make and weight of the paper. One police source confirmed its authenticity, but not the other. So we decided to err on the side of caution and not make a public statement about it, though we informed our networks and continued checking on it.
And indeed we were proven wrong, when Anwar emerged with his now-famous black eye. But if we were given an opportunity to revise our decision, we would not have changed a thing. It was, after all, a time where rumours and counter-rumours, intelligence and counter-intelligence, were rife.
There will be times when information will fall on our laps, faster than ripe cherries. Like we heard, over the weekend, how a political party would be putting up an independent candidate to legitimise the BN win and take the heat off the Election Commission. Gems they may appear to be, but one should proceed with caution. If it’s too good to be true, then it is worth the extra time and effort to double-check the facts.
Otherwise it won’t be much different from how the Greeks got into Troy.