The hour when shamelessness became virtue


WITHOUT doubt, many Malaysians watched with utter disgust the way a son of a MP got a police escort to move around in Penang.

The concern is how could the son of a mere MP, no matter how rich or influential he may be, enjoy such privileges which are only accorded to the very top level of society and that too with specific provisions in the nation’s written laws and regulations.

Unfortunately, though procedurally correct, the first to pay the price for such excesses, are the traffic cops, who have now been “benched” by the state police chief.

It is commendable because the act was swift and decisive but yet, there is a lingering bad after taste as to what will happen to the son of the MP who has privilege to the extent that a couple of cops is suffering the indignity of being punished, which is likely to scar them for a long time.

But there should actually be a bigger concern on how the issue has cropped up after being revealed by the MP’s son himself, as he had put up the episode in a video of his social media account.

It was put up with impudence, arrogance and without any sense of propriety.

Some attributed the self-incriminating post to the deficit of grey matter as well as the pomp of wealth, regardless how it came about.

They may be so, but what is probably most evident though not obvious, is the belief of being entitled that extends the sense of unbridled superiority, contributing further to the pervasive modern day caste system as the disparity between the rich and poor widens.

Actually, the problem of the son of the MP is only a symptom of a malaise that resulted from what had been nurtured by Umno and other Malay institutions of late.

This sense of entitlement is not something that is provided for in relation to Malay privileges or constitutional provisions regarding quotas and position of the Malays and Bumiputera in the political, social and economic structure of the nation.

It may stem from them but not from the philosophy nor strategies of these provisions but rather from abuse and rent-seeking and manipulation of the system, not only at the expense of the Malays/Bumiputeras but on the rest of the populace.

It affected the efficacy of affirmative action, soliciting disgust and criticisms from the less discerning Malays and non-Malays, blaming the system and philosophy instead of the abusers and manipulators.

These self-entitled Malays and Bumiputeras embark on the exercise of manipulation and abuse as a shortcut to massive wealth which comes along with power and positions.

Ultimately, they are very much aware that wealth, or much easier understood in the present context that cash is king.

To reach such a level of actualisation, it requires an ability to disregard all values that reminds a society of what is right and wrong, as well as develop a thick hide that deflects shame, remorse and guilt.

Otherwise, how would anyone explain the “grand’ debate between Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Thursday night.

Regardless what was debated and the points raised, the question is how could a convicted felon, found guilty no less than the High Court and the Appeals Court for abuse of power and corrupt practices involving public funds, get on a national stage, and given the opportunity to lecture the citizenry on the direction of the nation’s economy.

That is what Najib is all about. His is not a case of being innocent until found guilty. Rather, it is a case of being guilty until proven otherwise as he awaits his appeal to the Federal Court.

The appeals court judges concluded that he is a national embarrassment and yet, the handlers of a national TV network and newspaper unashamedly invited him to the debate, seemingly devoid of any moral compass.

There is such a thing called social sanction against such a person which any media leader who is concerned about the value and direction the nation is heading, would have observed and upheld.

Instead, in the greed for viewership and readership, these media owners conspired against the social sanction and provided the platform for the national embarrassment dubbed a plundering idiot to lecture on the economic direction of the nation.

And true to form, he shamelessly bragged about how during his rule he had enlarged the economic cake and was capable of dishing cash handouts to the needy.

In other words, he is saying that he is capable of filling up the nation’s coffers. That is not the issue though debatable. The issue is what he did with the coffers.

Simply put, it is akin to allowing a wolf speaking to a congregation of chickens of how it had managed the chicken coop and fattening them. Not being told is what happened after to the fattened chicken.

However, much as issues should be raised with the media owners, supposedly the guardians of the nation’s conscience, for hosting a national embarrassment and to what kind of value and message they are sending out to the general populace, they are not alone in such faux pas.

They may even claim that they are only following up on a new tradition introduced by an ancient institution where a plunderer is royally feted and hosted.

It helped the plunderer to realise his mettle of being utterly shameless.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.