An unmerited honour of convenience

pic by BERNAMA

THE idiom that there is “honour among thieves” is often a subject of dispute. On one hand, the saying is supposed to reflect that even criminals observe a certain code of conduct between them in which they are expected not to tell on each other.

Dissenters said the idiom would make more sense that there is no honour between them as if they had any honour, they wouldn’t become thieves in the first place.

Before anyone get their knickers all knotted up, no one is being called a thief, equated to one or alleged to be one. It is an idiom…period, and if none belabours over the literal, the idiom should be a measure that surely, at one point of a person’s life, honour is all that is left, when all else fails.

However, recent turn of political events obviously proved that there is no such thing as honour or principle.

When Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the prime minister the first time around and when he finally decided to believe accusations of sexual misdemeanours against his then deputy Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the latter’s supporters took to the street and demonstrated vehemently and at times, violently.

Those were the seeds that grew to what is today Parti Keadilan Rakyat or PKR, Anwar-led and a senior member of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition which rules Malaysia. And Dr Mahathir is the prime minister as well as chairman of PH.

If in 1998/99 Anwar’s supporters flooded the streets of Kuala Lumpur in protest of him being sacked on accusations of sexual misdeeds, earlier this week some of his supporters — albeit without his presence and it is debatable that it was with his consent — took to the street in protest of police inaction against PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, today accused of similar crimes to that of Anwar.

Of course, the protest is insignificant in numbers if compared to that of 1998/99. After all, the protest is held in support of Anwar’s political secretary Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak, who was released after being remanded by the police who were investigating the mastermind behind the sex video allegedly involving Azmin.

The PKR supporters were unhappy that Farhash was arrested, when they felt Azmin should have been the one arrested as he was the one accused of the sexual misdemeanour.

Other than some segments of PKR who are unhappy with the development, those who were pushing for Anwar’s incarceration in the late 1990s were also unhappy with Dr Mahathir for declaring the sex video a political ploy to destroy Azmin’s career and that he would not allow himself to be used to fulfil an evil agenda.

To them, it was an inconsistent position compared to that he took when dealing with Anwar’s case, in which he finally sacked him and led to the latter being charged and later jailed for the alleged crimes.

But it was pointed out that if the critics cared to reflect, when the matter was first brought up to Dr Mahathir, he summarily dismissed it and it was almost a year later before Dr Mahathir gave it his attention.

Prior to that, those who signed the statutory declarations on Anwar’s alleged sexual misdeeds, after failing to get any attention from Dr Mahathir, had then turned to DAP stalwart the late Karpal Singh who took up their cause and raised it at several political levels at every opportunity he had.

If the narratives by the accusers were to be believed, Dr Mahathir only started paying attention when they claimed they were being harassed by the police, forced to change their declarations and subjected to the “turning over” process by the special branch.

If the past is anything to go by, and if PKR was indeed birthed primarily from its strong opposition to the use of sexual conspiracies to bring down political opponents, they should be united in condemning the use of the sex video against Azmin.

They should all be glad that Dr Mahathir had dismissed it as a political conspiracy as he did when he was first informed of Anwar’s alleged misdeeds.

They should hope that Dr Mahathir does not change his mind eventually and accepts that it is a moral issue and not political as he did with Anwar’s previously.

But more than anything, if Anwar’s supporters, ironically including Azmin, went through much pain and anger when Anwar faced his first and second incarcerations, surely they would not want to subject anyone else of similar unsavoury circumstances.

After all, they stood side by side with Azmin et al to oppose the allegations against Anwar and dismissed all and sundry that all evidence was fabricated.

It is, however, quite doubtful that PKR can rise above it though there are talks on the grapevines that Anwar and Azmin are quite amenable to cast the episode aside and move on.

If they’re unable to do so, it is not only Anwar and Azmin, but the rest of PKR that will go through a period of wondering and wandering. Simply put, they will be “two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl”.

That phrase is not an idiom. It is a line from Pink Floyd’s critically acclaimed Wish You Were Here.

The song was written, or so it was narrated, to reflect that the camaraderie that had served the band was, by then, largely absent.


Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.