pic by BLOOMBERG
IT IS probably high time that a proper study is conducted on how some segment of the Malaysian society is still in denial that the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd) shenanigans did occur; that it involved top leaders of the nation; and other personalities linked to the scandal from around the world are either incarcerated or paying huge amount of monies for their involvement.
The study should also look into their gullibility that while the kleptocrat had failed to prove anything substantial to defend himself in the courts of law and was convicted, yet they are prepared to believe his claims of using the monies for charity and such.
And this is despite the court records showing these monies were used for personal gratification — the purchases of luxury items, a gift to pacify an irked spouse and other stuff running into millions and millions of ringgit.
The study should also look at the preparedness of accepting two wrongs making one right, the second wrong being churned as a defence for the first wrong and ignoring that the first wrong — the 1MDB kind — involved abuse of public funds running up to billions and billions of ringgit.
Whether such a study can be conclusive or not, it should probably allow the nation a peek into the minds of these people who don’t seem to mind the nation being robbed blind for as long as they feel that the kleptocrat had given them some handouts, even if the handouts are of no consequence compared to the amount stolen.
And while at it, probably, the rest of the nation can start to understand how these people can be grateful for the handouts when they are not personal funds from the kleptocrat and if anything, part of the monies looted.
Another aspect the study can probably shine some light on is the ability to interweave even religion and race with such financial scandal and justify the crimes on grounds that even if the leader is corrupt and a kleptocrat, at least he’s a Malay and a Muslim.
It is truly baffling when they invoke the name of Islam and the Malay race in defending the kleptocrat and his ilk when what they had committed are against the very essence of the religion and the core values of the race. And the leader can still continue with a straight face, go around campaigning and even urge his supporters to support his candidate so as to prove their sympathy to him and in effect discredit the findings of the court and the judge that presided.
This has nothing to do with politics anymore. It is about a crime that had been committed at the expense of the citizenry.
The day the kleptocrat was convicted, a Western Australian newspaper headlined “Plundering Idiot” and not too long ago, a leading foreign publication carried a headline that read “A Man of Steal”.
Some are of the opinion that his actions had embarrassed the nation. He did, but when voters brought him to their knees, the nation’s pride was restored. However, with the current crop of supporters in denial and unashamedly supporting a nonchalant, shameless kleptocrat, the nation is again left red-faced.
Even though the supporters are probably in the minority, and they are not his kith or kin, it is indeed embarrassing that the fact is they exist. Of lesser embarrassment is the public outbursts over a minister’s trip abroad and on his return, not subjecting himself to the 14-day mandatory quarantine — appearing in Parliament six days after his return.
There was an attempt to justify the minister’s position that he had, on his return, been tested negative for Covid-19. That attempt to explain had triggered extensive outrage, especially on social media platforms with netizens pointing out that the test was part of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) — after which quarantine was still compulsory.
Under the National Security Council’s SOPs, all returnees are tested on arrival and those with negative results must then serve out their 14-day quarantine, while those testing positive are sent to a hospital for further treatment.
They are tested again on the 13th day of their quarantine and are only released upon a negative Covid-19 result. A breach of this order is punishable under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 by up to two years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both upon conviction.
What irks the citizenry is that several fellow citizens who had breached the order had been fined and imprisoned, some very harshly.
With that, the hashtag — #antaraduadarjat (double standards) — which became popular during the early days when the Movement Control Order was eased and several government politicians and a daughter of a political leader breached the order and got off with what seemed to be just a slap on the wrist — goes mainstream again.
It is unlikely that the populace is going to accept the minister being let off with a slap on the wrist, again.
Unfortunate it may be for the minister. He went to Turkey where the best of the East and West was consummated. Yet, he returned to embrace its name, albeit in the lower case.
Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.