Dealing with the fragility of race relations

by SHAMSUL AKMAR/ Pic by BERNAMA

IF ANYONE thought that Auditor- General Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad’s damning revelations that former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak had ordered the deletion of a couple of paragraphs in 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB’s) 2016 audit report would finally stop Najib from running his mouth, they should think again.

Actually, it is almost a back-to-back damnation, the week before being the former PM’s admission that Low Taek Jho or simply Jho Low, whom all these past years Najib had denied of any wrongdoing vis-a-vis the 1MDB scandal, may have cheated the government.

Instead, Najib seems to be oblivious to them and, in fact, was cheeky enough to even comment on the recent riots at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple that such a situation did not occur under his watch.

While the nation watched in horror as the temple crisis unfurled, reminding all and sundry how fragile race relations can be when put to the test, it may have provided Najib a breather, so much so that it gave him the confidence to put such comments on his social media account.

Of course, the repudiation of his remarks was torrentially swift — reminding him of the invasion in Lahad Datu, the missing MH370, the crash of MH17, the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu, the murder of Deputy Public Prosecutor Kevin Morais and, of course, 1MDB — the biggest kleptocracy the world has ever witnessed as described by the US Department of Justice.

While not all should be blamed solely on Najib, he should have realised that on May 9, 2018, when Malaysians voted him out of office, the message was quite clear — the nation was glad to see his back.

Now, with the scrutiny on the new government intensifying as its honeymoon period is quite over, Umno and some of its leaders seem to harbour hopes that they may still have a chance of making a comeback.

They are either delusional or drinking the Kool Aid.

If they’re unable to distinguish between the dissatisfaction towards some of Pakatan Harapan government’s policies and their own relevance to national politics, then someone should spell it out to them.

Simply put — after six months in power, the people are less accommodating to the missteps made by the leaders of the current administration.

It is not something unexpected. In fact, to a lot of degree, the expectation on the Pakatan Harapan government is higher than the bar placed on the previous Najib administration.

Apart from the expectation that it would have higher moral and more trustworthy, the nation believes that it should be able to meet their needs and overcome their sorrows and lack.

These expectations are almost a face off to the disappointment or anger towards the previous administration — the previous government is the root of all their woes, the new one is to solve them.

It is these sentiments that seem to have provided some hope for Najib and others still in the Umno stable.

However, the disappointment towards Pakatan Harapan doesn’t equal to Umno, Najib and some of its leaders regaining public support, except maybe among their hardcore supporters and Kool Aid drinkers.

Even if it doesn’t get through to them yet, someone must keep on pushing it that the rakyat has had enough of the plunderers of the nation and unless Umno and Barisan Nasional come up with a new set of leaders, untainted and with inclusive policies that do not thrive on racial and religious prejudices, they have no place in the country’s politics.

In fact, as it is right now, Umno and Barisan Nasional as political brands are as irrelevant as some of the mainstream media that used to support them.

Or rather, it should be rephrased — in its current form with its current leaders, Umno and Barisan Nasional are of no use to the nation whatsoever, while certain mainstream media, which compromised their professionalism in favour of Najib and his coalition, unless changes are affected, are as irrelevant though of some use when performing certain household chores.

While Pakatan Harapan supporters may be gleeful over such thoughts, that does not contribute much to the democratic pursuits for the nation.

Without a credible Opposition and left with a delusional one, the democratic space will neither expand nor grow. In fact, with the Opposition still dominated by the irrelevant ones, the space is filled up by the promotion of racial and religious slurs, reaffirming their tangential existence.

That, in turn, does not contribute much to the growth of Pakatan Harapan as it continues to attempt to deflect the distorted racial and religious jaundices, so much so that those adept to such political subjects will strive forth.

It then becomes a vicious cycle. If some of the comments spewed on social media over the Sri Maha Mariamman crisis are of any measure, the nation seems to have a long way to go before it can rise above these primordial sentiments.

But there are gems that emerged which provide hopes. It helps in giving the morning blues a miss.