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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Are we a nation in decay?

Happenings over the past year, at least, show that we are still far from achieving developed-nation status.
COMMENT
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Could the recent events involving Pasir Salak Umno be hinting at the ruling party’s decay? Or worse, is the nation itself rotting?
Many of those who believe in an eventual apocalypse also tend to believe that it will either be preceded or followed by the degradation of society. The Muslim and Christian texts tell of an end of days when all will be judged for their sins. The Hindus have the Kali Yuga and the Buddhists speak of a new era after the coming of the next Buddha Maitreya.
When one thinks of the antics of the likes of Sungai Besar Umno division chief Jamal Yunos or the outrageous utterances of deputy minister Tajuddin Abdul Rahman or the attempted assault of Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad by a gang from Pasir Salak, it is easy to be fooled into thinking that Pasir Salak and Umno have always been full of brutes.
That would be a mistake. Umno’s founder, Onn Jaafar, was an articulate man who chose the power of the pen over the sword when he became a journalist and wrote articles on the welfare of the Malays. He created the party as a means to rally the Malays against the Malayan Union, which was perceived as threatening Malay privileges and the position of the Malay rulers.
Even after all this fighting for the Malays, he eventually left Umno after he was put off by the party’s race based policies and his call for the party to be open for all Malayans went unheeded. What would he think of the likes of Jamal and Tajuddin?
Pasir Salak is referred to by many as the birthplace of Malay nationalism because it was there that the British Resident in Perak, James Wheller Woodford Birch, was assassinated. This initiated a war between the British army and the Malays in Pasir Salak. The more technologically-advanced British came out victorious, but many believe that this war was what inspired efforts towards the country’s independence in 1957.
Tajuddin and those who tried to harm the Shah Alam MP on sacred Parliament ground have now tainted Pasir Salak’s history. A Google search for Pasir Salak will now have Tajuddin’s dirty taunt and the attempted assault at top of the list of results. How would the heroes who died at Pasir Salak feel knowing that their descendants can dish out insults and then behave like children when they are the targets of retaliatory insults?
In truth, we didn’t have to wait for last week’s events to suspect that the nation, was rotting.
Former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who was once thought of by many people as a dictator, is not the only person who has turned his back on Umno. There are others still in the party who realise that Umno is no longer the party worthy of the respect of politically aware and decent people. Indeed, some of the party’s grassroots leaders have said as much publicly.
Certainly, this decadence in Umno is sometimes reflected in the utterances of public figures representing the party. It was perhaps to express his exasperation over this that Khalid yelled “menteri sial” repeatedly in the Dewan Rakyat. A look at the live video recording of the debate shows that Khalid started out civil enough before he realised that the only way to get through to a person like Tajuddin was to speak in a language that the Pasir Salak MP understood.
Meanwhile, street crimes are rising, mat rempits have expanded their activities to cover every night of the week, cases of paedophilia and children being beaten to death are being reported nearly every day, lawyers are being found in concrete filled drums, and there’s a black market where people can buy and sell children. These are only some of the indications of a decaying society that have been reported in the past year.
Malaysia has been chasing the “developed nation” status for decades now, and these digressions, as frequent and ubiquitous as they are, show how distant that vision still is. --Mkini

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