When betrayal becomes noble…

pic by BERNAMA

TODAY is Friday the 13th — an ominous date associated with bad luck traced all the way back to the Last Supper and the betrayal by Judas Iscariot, the 13th disciple.

While it is unheard that Malaysians suffer from the irrational fear of the date, termed paraskevidekatriaphobia*, their sentiments toward betrayals and betrayers are as universal as the rest of mankind.

(*Coined in the 1990s by Dr Donald E Dossey, an American psychotherapist specialising in phobias and stress management, who reputedly claimed that when someone was able to pronounce the word, he was cured. More of such literature is available on the Internet).

But betrayals are actually quite complex to determine and to a certain degree to comprehend.

Surely the phrase — “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more” — is the culmination of the moral judgement proffered to Romans in the tragic betrayal of Caesar on the ides of March.

While not all betrayers quoted the Bard when committing their betrayals but their defence and justification usually alludes to that.

With the abundance of political conflicts and crises emerging, and many more expected after curtains come down for 2019, Malaysians can look forward to the accusations of betrayal and betrayers liberally and widely used.

As it is, in last week’s PKR’s annual congress, though Brutus was not referenced, the names of local equivalents, Si Kitol and Raja Mendaliar, were mentioned and led to the walkout staged by the faction led by deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (picture; left).

Unlike Brutus, who got into Shakespeare’s play and saw his side of the story romanticised, Si Kitol and Raja Mendaliar did not enjoy such privilege in the story about the fall of Melaka, and as far as any narratives are concerned, they are guilty as charged.

However, much as Si Kitol and Raja Mendaliar’s positions in these narratives are definitive, it does not mean to equate them as that of the rivals can be as final and conclusive.

Azmin and his team have not allowed the Si Kitol and Raja Mendaliar label to define them and instead pointed out that their loyalty was flawless and the same could not be said of their accusers who included those who were still in their diapers when the party was idealised and realised.

But the ailments afflicting PKR is symptomatic of Pakatan Harapan. Though at irregular intervals, the frequency of accusations that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is reneging on his promise to hand over the prime ministership to PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (right) is starting to sound like a broken record.

Despite repeatedly promising that he will hand over the coveted post to Anwar when the time comes, which in the general understanding of most is between two to three years, the accusations of reneging, which is somewhat closely related to betraying, continue to crop up.

By any logic, Dr Mahathir would have reneged, or betrayed, the mutual understanding if he chooses not to hand over by the end of the three years.

If the third year had not been completed then those making the accusations that he had reneged or betrayed the agreement are actually the ones who had done that.

They only have the right to make such accusations or raise the issue at the end of the three years and any act of such before the time is an act of reneging from the promise and betraying the understanding that had been agreed.

It does not get past those who are more discerning, that these noises are intended to pressure Dr Mahathir to step down before the time frame and their intentions are obviously in tandem with their ambitions which has nothing to do with the love for the nation.

These acts are hurting the nation as it creates uncertainties and inadvertently a perception of political instability which in effect deters potential investors.

If such context is to be accepted then those making these noises are actually not doing any favours — for their party, nation and citizenry.

Then again, obviously, these acts are not accidental or merely frustrated outbursts. They are instead well planned, meant to disrupt and intended to paralyse the government and inevitably leading to collective unhappiness towards the government.

If these acts had been committed by the Opposition, it is only expected, especially if the fall of the government will result in those facing dozens of cases in courts may still have hopes of avoiding jail sentences.

But much of these were also initiated from within — by those who are impatient to lay their hands on the “political spoils” that follow the change of leadership and others who did not get their hands on the “spoils” from the change resulting from the general election last year.

A few are also hedging, obviously stemming from greed as the spoils from the current government are insufficient and hoping to get more from the next one.

And unlike Si Kitol and Raja Mendaliar, they will be like Brutus with all the noble justifications they can think of.

Next year, they’re going to be two Fridays the 13th, but it is unlikely they need such dates to effect their betrayals.

The ides of each month are more likely their measures.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.