Friday Jottings: When heels deter healing

THERE is rhyme and reason that a couple of jarring notes are adding discordance to the Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional/Umno’s marriage of convenience.

First, it was the full-pledged security escort and details transporting Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (picture) to the courts as his multiple cases of pecuniary improprieties.

Second is his request for the return of his passport permanently so as to allow him to perform his duties effectively.

Attempts made by PH’s Umno apologists to negate growing criticisms over Zahid’s existence in the government by arguing that Zahid should not be judged on the principle of innocence until proven guilty, doesn’t seem to be bought by many, except among their own circle.

Neither does the justification that it is a Government decreed by the King continue to appeal to public opinion. If anything, it is becoming quite stale when used to justify Zahid’s appointment.

The appointment of Zahid as the DPM is indeed troubling to the conventions of good governance, equality before the eye of the law and basic ethical observances.

It sends very wrong messages to all and sundry when a person facing multiple charges arrives in court as a VIP with all the trappings of a top Government official performing public duties.

Surely, Zahid facing his court cases is his personal obligation and should not in any way be associated with the Government.

Otherwise, it can then be deemed that he has the support of the Government while he faces the law on his own self.

Then there is the issue of getting his passport back permanently to allow him to perform his DPM duties.

Again, the law had been consistent about the court withholding the passport of those charged with serious offences and Zahid’s several dozens of cases merited for the court to withhold his passport.

If an exception is made, then it makes a mockery of the law and an injustice to others who were subjected to the law before and after.

Simply put, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s appointment of Zahid as his DPM is proving to be his Achilles heel though, going by social media expressions, his Economic Minister Rafizi Ramli seems to be in a hurry to claim the other heel.

It is not an exaggeration if some of the vitriol directed at Rafizi even lamented that Umno’s Ahmad Maslan seems to even be better than him.

For the uninitiated in Malaysian politics, Ahmad was, during the height of negative public sentiments towards the Datuk Seri Najib Razak reign prior to the 2018 polls, made the target of the opposition to represent the lowest level of incompetency of the then administration.

Being placed even below Ahmad would not augur well for Rafizi, PH and his Parti Keadilan Rakyat as prior to his appointment to the Cabinet post, he had positioned himself as the thinker and strategist for both platforms.

Alas, how the mighty had fallen.

But Zahid is not the only DPM whose missteps, by his own doing or others, is a matter of consternation for the rest of the country.

The other DPM, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof too seems keen to jostle for the other heel, coming up with an uninspiring retort to allegations that the 15th general election was the most corrupt polls.

His reaction that whoever made such claims should take the matter to court is indeed shallow and doesn’t bring anything extra to the table.

For others to react as such may have been a case of “siapa makan cili dia terasa pedas”, literally translated as he who bites the chilli will find it hot which simply means that someone tends to squirm when a highlighted wrongdoing comes close to home.

But for Fadillah, especially when the PM and the other DPM is grappling to be convincing in their pledge to combat corruption, he is expected to rise to the occasion.

Unless he had been focussed only on affairs in Sarawak, then it explains him missing out on the din over the issue of corrupt practices during the polls and the varying definition to justify if not deny them.

Surely the near cacophonic debate between PAS and Umno whether they were bribes or alms (sedekah) cannot be missed, affirming that there was distribution or handing out of cash or equivalent during the run up to the polls.

Surely too he wouldn’t have missed out on the concern raised over the Penang DAP’s offer to bear the two-way transportation costs for students returning to vote last November.

The DAP claims that the offer was not an attempt to ‘buy votes’, as eligible recipients will not be told which party to vote for.

All these merely points towards each political party that spent money on voters were claiming to have done so on a higher moral calling.

With such debates and admissions going on, it meant that monies were strewn all over during the 15th polls.

What is expected of the Government is what would it do to stem such practices via policies, strategies and other measures so that the result of the 16th polls is not determined by the money spent but the cause fought.

Indeed, aggrieved individuals should turn to the courts but leaders are expected to heal the nation and that requires wit.

Not too much. A little should suffice

  • Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.


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