The struggles in justifying the unjustifiable

pic by TMR FILE

WITH all the jesters jestering around, a question was raised recently as to why did the new prime minister decided to retain some of those from the previous administration when they had proven to be ineffective and, at best, of only opaque entertainment value.

To the cynic and realists, the answer would simply be that betrayals need to be rewarded, while to the naïve and adherent, it is for the greater good.

The justifications of betrayals had best been summed up by William Shakespeare’s Brutus in the oft-repeated famous quote “it is not that I love Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more”.

Yet, no matter how much Brutus, and others after him, attempted to use such justification to exonerate themselves, betrayals would always leave a bitter aftertaste. It could have been worse, the Judas-type of betrayal where there would never be any justifiable justification.

In the history of nations, politics and life move on though for some, it is a bitter lesson well learnt.

For others, all will be forgotten as livelihood and stability are of the essence, especially when times are trying and politics is probably the least of their concern.

And for that matter, at this point in time, when Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin contended that even if this government was not what the people voted for but it cared for them, the most cynical of the citizenry was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

In other words, rather than creating instability and retaining politics as a staple, they would bite their tongue and allow for a sound administration that is focused on tackling the unprecedented crisis.

However, when reports emerged about the removals and sackings of professionals appointed to the government and government-linked entities by the previous administration, the goodwill seemed to have thinned.

To them, the removal of political appointees was probably palatable, but when professionals of sound track records were included in the list, the grumblings have risen numerous decibels.

Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (picture) took to social media and raised issue over the removal of those appointees whom she described as competent. The way she read about the removals seemed to reflect that the new government’s clarion call is “we, party people, come first”.

And her posting attracted a lot of traffic and was widely shared, apart from turned into a news item by online news portals.

However, as much as it irked Rafidah and other Malaysians, there is a certain degree of latitude that the new government enjoys, sarcastic as it may sound.

Since it is not voted in, it does not have a manifesto nor is it bound by a single manifesto, and neither is it obliged to observe the manifestos of the respective parties bound under Perikatan Nasional.

In other words, it has the freedom to decide how to manage the nation the way it deems as being caring. As such, if it doesn’t observe the political niceties or that of conventional wisdom, this cannot be held against it.

The previous administration was relentlessly reminded and hounded by the people to fulfil all that were promised in the manifesto, even when the government had asked for some latitude for deferments and delay of some which were not conducive to be pursued within a short time frame.

Appointments of professionals to government entities were pretty much lauded, meaning the professionals and apolitical personalities were chosen based on merit.

Appointments from among party leaders were frowned upon and if there were, they were sparse and they themselves were qualified in their own rights.

It is quite ironic that today, a government that is not voted for have all the liberty to appoint political supporters and leaders and there’s nothing much the people can do, while that which was popularly elected, suffered tremendous pressure to fulfil its manifesto promises and to a certain degree, contributed to its untimely downfall.

Someone wise once said that it is difficult to mask a desire. This is especially true when the desire is a collective manifestation of a body of people whose only capability is probably pursuing political advancement for self.

It was also pointed out when power is pursued and secured, the hope is that the lust morphs into something benign and that it is used for the wellbeing of the general populace, again, especially when uncertainties of the future is not merely a catchphrase.

History has, however, shown that power corrupts and the transformation of an unelected government into a benign administration has been rare and few. It is difficult to be just because at every turn, it faces a similar possibility of being overthrown and that fear will result in unending efforts to solidify its position.

It only stands to reason that if it was not democratically elected, then its efforts to remain in power will not be fully committed to observing the democratic conventions either.

It sounds pretty bleak and the last thing anyone needs at a time when things are tough and getting tougher. There is that hope that is left after the opening of the mythical box, though pessimists still view it as a “deceptive expectation”.

In simpler terms, such expectations may be misplaced, if not delusional.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.