The zero that can never be hero

pic credit: Ismail Sabri Yaakob FB

WITHOUT doubt, ushering in 2022, as in previous years, will be laced with a tinge of sadness. The only thing new is that accompanying it this time around is also a sense of anger, helplessness and to some degree, defeat.

It is not surprising though.

Given that ineptitude, arrogance, incompetence, tardiness, corruption and greed among leaders, whether perceived or otherwise, is now a cliché — to paraphrase a line from a recent thriller.

Besides that, double-standards continue to feel like a steel knife plunged straight into the heart. And every time it recurs, the cut goes deeper.

Though it sounds a tad melodramatic, it has to be said that with every cut, in the tradition of proverbial Malay, lime has been squeezed over for good measure.

And how can it not be when the nation continues to witness ordinary folks being cuffed and humiliatingly escorted to jail for stealing meagre amounts up to a few thousands ringgit worth of stuff, while a convicted felon of billions of ringgit of public funds and billions in unpaid taxes struts around as if he’s a godsend to mankind, be it as it may that he’s awaiting appeal.

Whether the law allows him to or otherwise, his nonchalance towards what he has been convicted for, mocks the ordinariness of the rest of the populace.

Never mind his lack of empathy or sensitivity, but a kleptocrat convicted for stealing from the nation’s kitty and invited to address an economic forum cannot be on him but rather the organisers.

For a kleptocrat, it is an opportunity to regain some sense of self-worth. But the organisers are sending a message which can simply be read “as better a felon, even one declared as a national embarrassment” as long their economic appetite is whetted.

Birds of a feather or such, immediately comes to mind.

And that the congress is linked to China doesn’t do any favours for the foreign power. If anything, it inflicts negatively on the credence of China’s enviable uncompromising stance on domestic corruption but for deals abroad, the corrupt seems to be acceptable, if not the preferred one.

While the nation is expected to deal with the ignominy for many months after the new year, a pressing concern is having to contend with the incompetent Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s  (picture) and members of his Cabinet.

After the prime minister (PM) proudly declared a score of 90% in their report cards a few weeks prior, their performance or rather lack of it during the flood disaster should render them flunking miserably with scores reduced to zero if not sub zero.

Their unwitty reactions, after an all-round public condemnations and repugnance, were amateurish, uninspiring, unimaginative and at best comical, though none of the victims found them funny.

Unless, these antics were intentional on the part of these incompetent leaders, hoping to take the victims’ minds off their misery. Then, probably some marks should be accorded to these leaders for trying.

Trivia aside, what looms in months ahead is the fact that the populace will have to contend with these jesters until the next polls, though some are still hopeful that Ismail Sabri may still develop a spine to conduct a Cabinet reshuffle.

At least one news portal closely associated with a member of the Ismail Sabri’s Cabinet seems to allude to that; it also detailed the encumbrances with the obvious being his dependence on non-Umno support to have a simple majority to remain in the driver’s seat.

He has to please the Perikatan Nasional (PN) faction and appease the disgruntled Umno-led Barisan Nasional.

Umno too, is fractious, one with Ismail Sabri and favouring continued cooperation with PN and another with the kleptocrats keen for early polls, which is suspiciously viewed by some that it has to do with impending court cases.

Simply put, if Ismail Sabri drops some of the PN ministers, he risks losing their support and losing his PM post an inevitability. It is doubtful that he even dares to quietly think about replacing any of the Umno/BN ministers. Ismail Sabri in essence will continue to be on the leash of the kleptocrats.

Their disingenuity even caught some of DAP’s boy-wonders, who rooted for the collaboration with Ismail Sabri, into believing that it would strengthen him to not be held at ransom by the kleptocrats.

Unsurprisingly then that these conceited strategists and boy-wonders seemed to train their guns elsewhere.

What had evolved since had been otherwise and the DAP as well as their Opposition partners had been at the losing end as witnessed in the Sarawak and Malacca polls, while the kleptocrats grew in strength.

That leaves the nation with a choice, between the deceitful and insufferable, the untrustworthy and hubristic. Not much of a choice, almost Hobson’s. They are there, impending in the horizons of the new year.

It is tragic, as clichéd as it may be.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.