The dumbing down of the shackled minds

Graphic By TMR 

Some writers of English publications were of the opinion that the current government should move forward and focus on rebuilding the country, instead of regurgitating the crimes and failings of the previous administration and former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.

While their points may be valid — but coming from them, who kept their peace when Najib and the Barisan Nasional government was globally exposed in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal, and continued to “root” for them up till the polling day for the 14th General Election — it sounds somewhat sanctimonious.

But these writers are part of those who are trying to rebrand themselves, exploiting the new-found freedom of expression accorded by the current administration.

In the rebranding process, they are probably hoping for the public to forget that they were part of the cabal that allowed the kleptocrats to cling to power until their unceremonious exit on May 9.

It is probably as much to the benefit of the nation if the new government can move on and leave the 1MDB scandal to the courts, as it is to them. The less the issue is discussed, the less there are possibilities of people being reminded of their roles or rather, the lack of it, in exposing the scandalous 1MDB.

In the meantime, the new government should probably take heed of the suggestion to move forward and to focus on what it can do to ease the lower income group of the burden of the high cost of living.

Some clarity on the direction of the administration will go a long way in dousing some of the disgruntlements.

Obviously, reminding them of the crimes and misdeeds of the past administration will not take their mind of their difficulties in making ends meet.

The new government, however, seems aware off the demands and expectations, but they have their work cut short by those from the previous administration who are also busy rebranding themselves.

The concern for the plight of the people and quick on the draw in ridiculing policies and programmes introduced by the new government are healthy democratic exercises that should keep the new guardians of the nation on their toes.

However, the rebranding efforts among the kleptocrats of being concerned about the people and critical of the new administration is only one part of the exercise.

The more insidious is the attempt to now become the champion of the Malays and Islam that could change the nation’s political landscape into one that is divisive, aggressive and dangerously volatile.

It seems to secure traction among the Umno crowd and supported by the PAS adherents, and not surreptitiously so anymore.

Feeding this union is the insecurity of the Malays, the sense of being under siege and of course, the opportunistic Umno/PAS politicians who have been under tremendous pressure of corrupt indulgences.

It has almost become a battle of wills for these politicians — if they can convince the Malays from both the Umno/PAS divide that the current government is truly under the thumb of their non-Malay partners and stakeholders, their crimes of corruption and abuses of power may be forgotten, if not forgiven.

As such, despite speedy reactions in arresting and charging non-Muslims who put up offensive postings on social media about the Prophet Muhammad, it does not satisfy, nor please the Malays from the Malay/PAS divide.

They upped the ante and spread words and postings that Attorney General Tommy Thomas is anti-Islam and had chosen not to act against the offenders because of the right to free expression.

Such is the vitriol of the postings that it prompted Thomas to lodge a police report, and one of those who had shared the postings — on discovering that it was false — had publicly apologised to Thomas and pulled down the posting.

That should have provided truth to the assertions that a fair bit of the contentions that the Malays and Islam are being undermined are actually premised on false and fake postings.

But there are others who are still at it and in fact, rallies are being organised after today’s Friday prayers to demand the government to take firm action against those who blaspheme against Islam and the Prophet.

Such a narrative is a no brainer as it picks on the simple and insecure Malay crowd suffering from the sense of being under siege.

Ironically, the hands herding the crowd are those accused with the crimes of plundering to the tune of billions of ringgit from Lembaga Tabung Haji, the Federal Land Development Authority and Majlis Amanah Rakyat, to name a few — the very institutions set up to protect and empower the Malay Muslims.

However, much as it is baffling to see how these Malay crowds are being dumbed down, it is actually not too difficult to see why journalists of a Malay publication are still bending backwards in supporting the previous administration.

If writers from English publications are rebranding themselves as critical and independent- minded journalists, while basking in the newly-found press freedom, journalists from a Malay publication — while also enjoying the freedom to attack all and sundry of the new government — are still unable to be critical of the previous government that had kept them shackled.

It is indeed ironic. It is the classic case of suffering from a long-term enslavement.

Better the familiar shackles than the uncertainties of emancipation.


Shamsul Akmar is the editor at The Malaysian Reserve.

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