Stanley Koh wrote:
Spiritual laws may have existed long before any government conceives legislations and laws. But of late, numerous political developments seemed to message Malaysians that this is an age where morality seems to be disappearing and is being replaced by politics.
Hence, it came as no surprise when de-facto minister Aziz Nazri who is also Umno Supreme Council member viewed that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has no powers to initiate investigations on reports and charges of money politics and bribery within Umno. He backed his argument saying, “Dalam Umno kita bagi orang makan, itu adapt bila nak bertanding,” (In Umno we “feed” people, this is the culture when contesting). “It is not a public infration, but it is considered one within the party,” he added.
Does this reflect the collective changing “psyche” of Umno? From lessons in our local history, we have noted major events that have had affected Umno’s collective psyche. Notably in the recent past, the breaking away of the Semangat 46 grouping about 18 years ago and second, the agitation caused by the removal of Anwar Ibrahim. Today, the public row between the prime minister and Dr Mahathir Mohamad besides causing much political fatigue among the followers also suggested that individual and leadership values including proper societal values are being put in the backburner.
Yet the type of “psyche” Nazri is arguing for his party suggested that the “meal ticket” as very much a part of Umno’s culture. Does this mean that Umno should continue to practice the meal ticket policy to power and riches as recently witnessed in the Zakaria’s fiasco.
Paradoxically, it was ex-premier Mahathir who had repeatedly warned his party in his major speeches on this “meal ticket” syndrome that the danger would be the downfall of any political party. One may even ask if it is wise for its party followers to latch themselves on a meal ticket to certain corrupted rank or file leaders solely based to their close relationships with certain top leaders particularly the prime minister, and not on leadership values, morals and ethics. This political culture of party followers who determine their support to leaders on the basis of party posts instead of leadership and spiritual qualities undermine the maturity process require of a party being the backbone of this country.
All Malaysians are stakeholders
It is Umno which determines the prime minister of this country and the maturity of its delegates must surely be considered of great significance. Hence, whether Nazri likes it or not, all Malaysians are stakeholders in the well being of Umno and “money politics” in Umno is a concern for every Malaysian. When Nazri remarked that ACA has no powers to deal with its members in particular leaders indulging in all manifestations of “money politics”, he has unconsciously thrown out many policy creations of the prime minister including Islam Hadhari and the comprehensive 5-year National Integrity Plan specifically dealing with integrity, ethics and morality.
If that is the case, non-partisan Malaysian voters irrespective of their race, color and creed should cast their votes on Nazri’s latest opinion in the next general elections. Whether they agree that Umno, and solely Umno alone should deal with its members particularly leaders indulging in “money politics” activities which include all evidenced definitions like graft, bribery, money laundering, buying-off, paying off, giving illegal inducements and the abuse of powers. Whether they feel Umno is capable of such enforcement and more importantly, does it involve a conflict of interest? In short, Malaysians should judge with the vote at hand whether the prime minister has dealt efficiently on the corruption issue?
Obsession to pragmatism and adaptability even to the extend of compromising fair justice and integrity is already entrenched in some political parties since Mahathir ironically in the past introduced a dictatorial ruling that no party dispute can be brought to the courts for final settlement. It is even more telling that the principles of democracy including “free voting” within party elections are undermined by all sorts of underhanded tactics orchestrated by incumbents to influence the outcome of the election results, ignoring the unethical but often discreet display of obscene power politicking. Is this the type of democracy that our Prime Minister has so selectively protected and simultaneously in condemnation of the Western-type and on several occasions proudly declared to foreign visiting heads of government that we have our unique “Malaysian-type of democracy”.
Many of our political leaders have become wealthy and extremely comfortable while others exposed through telling signs on “multi-million ringgit” matrimony settlements relating to divorces unabashedly splashing in newspaper reports. Moral rights and wrongs are blurred and those who are conscientious are deliberately denied the right of freedom to choose what is right and wrong. Party policies of “toeing the line” and threats through instilling fear on those who oppose the unscrupulous become the order of party life. Bad and destructive decisions and policies become acceptable and eventually the norm in party life, with its meetings and elections, like a cancer patient living a “normal” life.
Same principle should apply
Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must become the change we want to see”. But what changes can a prime minister expects to see when he is perceived in not “walking the talk” and his senior followers “walking the take”?
Some of our arrogant leaders despised Western leaders for whatever reasons they know best. Abraham Lincoln once said that “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” True enough, we have our local political tyrants, whose philosophy best interpreted as “breaking the law, despite knowingly,” as though they have the right to do so when they are empowered in a government post through party appointments. So we were told recently by a senior state official. What rubbish, remarked a political observer. If the IGP has the courage to publicly announce that he would take disciplinary actions against any police supervisor if their constables under their charged misbehave or commit any serious offences, surely the same principle should apply to this senior state government official.
Kahlil Gibran in his wisdom manifested, said, “Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being. Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.” Contrary, in our midst we have politicians safeguarding his own rights instead of others, living true to the condemnation of politics that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Political power is indeed a strange commodity. Matthew Boulton is probably the only person in the world to have said of “selling” political power reflected in his quotation, “We sell here, Sir, what all the world desires to have - POWER.”
Indeed, many Malaysians are beginning to feel their country is facing a scenario between the “devil and the deep blue sea.” Suddenly, politics is not the art of the possible. It is more a choice between the disastrous and the unpalatable. It is not a joke anymore. However the problem with political jokes is like Will Roger having said, “The more you read and observe about this politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that’s out always looks the best.”
The truth of the matter is that a government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees. Both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people. When any political leader harbors the view that members of a political party should not be subjected to laws outside its party, Malaysians should think hard.
“As a political party, Umno is responsible for protecting the integrity not only of its leadership, but also its membership and indeed the entire nation. Hence every move it makes must be good for the good of the Malaysian society, which expects nothing less.” (Anwar Ibrahim: Sept 5, 1997 Umno Youth and Wanita Assemblies)