Friday Jottings: The silence of the fangless lions

THE silence is definitely deafening. It is troubling and disturbing especially when those muted are proclaimers of good governance, anti-corruption and ethical polling practices.

When they were up against these practices, they fought it with such fearless ferocity, so much so that the then establishment were sent reeling and eventually vanquished.

But making it worst today, apart from the pussyfooting, without talons and fangless, the proclaimers are now disclaimers, defending Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s (picture) allocation announcement for Terengganu youth last week.

It was an announcement that was laced with a promise of the allocation being “topped up” if they supported the “red and blue wave” in the upcoming elections for the state legislative assemblies.

The red and blue wave refers to Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional respectively. Zahid is chairman of the latter and Terengganu is one of the six states heading for the polls on Aug 12.

Zahid is also the Deputy Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who had once proclaimed that the biggest threat to the nation was corruption, and that he would not budge an inch in his battle against the scourge, was among the first top Government leader to defend Zahid’s statement.

He argued that Zahid’s announcement of the allocation for youths in Terengganu had nothing to do with the polls, as it was made a day before nomination on July 29, which officially marked the start of the campaign period.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission too cleared Zahid of accusations of corrupt practices in the announcement, saying that the agency viewed the grants as a federal allocation.

Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman was however unconvinced and was adamant that what Zahid had done was normalising corruption.

Saddiq’s detractors however felt that he was vocal against Zahid and PH because Muda was “snubbed’ by the coalition. In most circumstances this could be true, especially given his repeated overtures to be part of the coalition only to be dismissed unceremoniously.

But that shouldn’t diminish his contention, especially when those defending Zahid were grasping at straws.

How much more obvious could Zahid be when it was reported that he specifically tied the allocation to the polls, saying that the amount may be increased depending on the performance of the youth in the state election in Terengganu on Aug 12.

Zahid had brushed off Saddiq’s accusation of him normalising corruption, which is only to be expected, but Anwar’s defence of him insults the intelligence.

Beyond that, the silence of those supporting PH and Anwar’s apologists is creating a dangerous precedent, veering towards, and treading on the path they had once condemned their opponents of taking.

Supporters of their opponents, who were then the establishment, had defended such misdeed from outright denials to justifying it as defending stability, Malay leadership against a coalition dominated by a Chinese chauvinist party and so forth.

Lest Malaysians forget, a fund amounting to RM2.6 billion, linked to the 1MDB, which made its way to the then PM’s personal account, was justified to be a donation from a mysterious Arab prince.

Supporters of this now ex-PM claimed that the prince had given the donation in recognition of the his anti-Jewish stance. Later on, another claimed that it was a donation for the ex-PM’s commitment to anti-terrorism.

And the justification and whitewashing persisted, with some still believing it despite that the ex-PM is now jailed for financial shenanigans involving state funds.

Ironically those who were defending the ex-PM then are now part of the new administration which claims to be the torch bearer in combatting corruption.

Today, justification for collaborating with leaders facing corruption charges range from a necessity to form a functioning government, to ensuring stability which in effect stabilises the economy, to the need to ward off the monstrosity associated with the “green wave”.

Simply put, the association can be with the most corrupt, real or perceived, and it is acceptable with stability being offered and that the green wave thwarted.

Since the formation of the government about eight months ago, the justification today has been widely reduced to merely to stem the green wave’s tide and that is the narrative commonly used in the state polls.

With that, combatting corruption becomes mere slogan. With that too, the responsibilities of good governance, including giving the ordinary folks a decent life vis-à-vis affordability, low cost of living and such, become expedient and expendable.

The danger is supporters and apologists become excessively defensive when questions of the leaders integrity and commitment to good governance and combatting corruption are raised.

The more they defend and justify the misdeeds of their leaders, the deeper they sink and before long, any justification given extended by their leaders to defend themselves would be swallowed whole by the supporters.

Before long, not only generous Arab princes become believable and available, even genies from bottles and lamps could be rubbed into existence.

In many ways than not, they have become the very type of supporters they were contemptuous of, had abhorred and ridiculed.

Flip it, and they are merely different sides of the same coin. – pic BERNAMA

  • Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.


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