Even one rotten apple is enough to spoil the whole barrel, not to mention a few hundred.
Why Umno has become a four-letter word these days in most urban Malaysian households is because of the actions of just a few. We say it is because Umno no longer exercises discipline within its party that continues to destroy the political party, bringing it to a new low each time its members behave like gangsters.
This is what Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz has failed to understand. I suspect the minister would have learnt this idiomatic saying while growing up, but I am surprised that he is now defending the rotten apples in Umno who were harassing the Bersih supporters on a convoy.
Whereas Bersih was pushing for clean and fair election, these are the people who are working against the parliamentary democracy in the country. They were not keen in having a clean election. They were only interested in defending one man at all costs, even to the point of putting the country in a bad light in the eyes of international observers.
How ironic that Bersih chairperson, Maria Chin Abdullah should be detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), whereas red-shirts leader Jamal Md Yusof, who is also Sungai Besar Umno division leader, remains scot-free. Does Nazri have a role to play in advising the government on what to do with Maria and Jamal?
The idiom, in fact, has its scientific basis. It is the gas released by the rotten apple that is being absorbed by the good apples, as a result of which all the other apples become rotten.
So, a few hundred Umno members behaving like uncouth gangsters are more than enough to give Umno a bad name.
In Penang, for example, it was bad enough for them to storm into the state assembly to threaten Seri Delima assemblyperson RSN Rayan; they even attacked well-known Malaysian political artist Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque, who is more fondly known as Zunar.
Instead of being detained by the police for their physical attacks against another civilian and citizen of this country, these Umno gangsters lodged a report against Zunar, and Zunar was detained under the Sedition Act.
This simply does not make sense at all. The one who were involved in physical harassment and caused trouble during an in-house exhibition were never being penalised for their actions; instead, a gentleman like Zunar was arrested and investigated under the Sedition Act.
As a fellow Malaysian, I cannot condone any act of physical aggression. In fact, I would urge all Malaysians to condemn such act of political bullies, and unless Umno has a conscience, it will sweep this under the carpet in the same way that Nazri has just done.
And the story goes on. Eleven Umno members, including the son of the Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister, Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, turned up at the Parliament to manhandle another lawmaker, Khalid Samad. Will they be charged under Sosma for physically manhandling a parliamentarian who stood for parliamentary democracy?
Politics and morals should not mix
Just like PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, who quoted the example of Jakarta governor Bashkirs Tjahaja Purnama or Ahok in his threat against non-Muslims, there is no respect shown to the non-Muslim community.
For this reason, I would not vote for PAS in the coming general election. If Amanah is contesting against PAS, I will cast my vote for Amanah. If a cat were to be the only choice between PAS, Umno and the cat, I would vote for the cat.
Hadi’s reference to Ahok is typical of the PAS president’s ignorance even about the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. How many times has Hadi spoken up in Parliament about the scandal?
The court will decide on Ahok’s case based on the truth that is presented. I trust that the international community will also take interest in the case as well, as Ahok had merely quoted a Quranic verse not out of context, but to dispute politicians who were trying to deprive him of votes.
According to the Jakarta Post, a police officer, Buni Yani, who had edited the speech to make it appear that Ahok was blaspheming, has also been identified and undergone interrogation. The truth has not been established yet, but Hadi had jumped the gun by quoting the example of Ahok, in his threat to non-Muslim parliamentarians for not supporting his bill.
If this is the way how the president of an Islamist party behaves, how can you expect the rest of the PAS people to protect the interests of the people against the kleptocrats in the country?
One rotten apple is what it takes to spoil the whole barrel. And what it is worse is when the owner of the other 99 good apples did nothing about the rotten apple. I end with one saying by Edmund Burke, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
At least, I have done my part in knocking some sense into Nazri, with the hope that he is still salvageable.
STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.- Mkini