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Friday, March 30, 2012

Malaysian values flushed away


Malaysia is governed by two sets of rules. One for the haves, another for the have-nots.
COMMENT
Malaysia has a peculiar and warped set of values; its elite get away with misbehaviour and serious crimes, while the rest of the population are kept in servitude and submission. Should anyone need convincing, various news reports will show that our law enforcers treat the Umno elite differently from the common rakyat.
One example is the treatment of three Muslim girls who were arrested on March 24, for being scantily clad while pole dancing at a nightclub in Nilai. They were charged under section 21 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 (Act 336) which carries a maximum fine of RM25 or a two-week jail term.
The magistrate Mohamad Izwan Mohamed Noh sentenced the girls and fined them RM25. He admonished them, urged them to be remorseful, and told them to desist from committing further immoral, indecent behaviour.
He said, “This is important as you cannot tarnish the image of your families”.
The maths is not difficult to do. It is probably going to cost the prison service more than RM25 per person to house them in jail.
Anyway, when faced with the prospect of a fortnight in a Malaysian jail, who wouldn’t opt for the RM25 fine? A good pole dancer can pick up hundreds, if not thousands of ringgits in tips in one night alone. If the fine is supposed to be a deterrent, then it has failed miserably.
This magistrate was conscious of family values and self-respect. So why are politicians involved in multi-million scandals treated with kid gloves?
For months, we were bombarded with details of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) corruption scandal which involved the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and her family.
Impersonating royalty
Can anyone recall an authoritative figure or even a religious leader giving the Shahrizat family a telling off for “tarnishing the image of their family”?
If Shahrizat’s husband had not been charged with criminal breach of trust (CBT), public anger would have been unleashed like a dam bursting its wall.
Have her children been let off scot-free? Has a deal been done to salvage their reputations? The public wants to know if the RM250 million will be recovered.
Last week, Mohamad Nedim Nazri, the son of Minister in the Prime’s Department, Nazri Aziz, was involved in a violent assault on a security guard at a luxury condominium in Kuala Lumpur.
Nedim had refused to observe the management’s strict rules regarding visitors and tried the daft tack of impersonating royalty.
Nedim is not only tarnishing his own family’s reputation but is also tarnishing the reputation of every royal family in Malaysia.
It is possible that the security guard, who is allegedly a Bangladesh national, was not taken in by the Malaysian serf-like adherence to royalty. Perhaps, Nedim’s deception lacked the finer nuances of royal behaviour.
The charade failed, the security guard was unimpressed and Nedim was livid. The upshot was that the guard was assaulted and Nedim made the news, again. It is alleged that Nedim’s minder, an ex-policeman, beat the guard up.
Setting a trend
In 2004, Nedim was allegedly implicated in the death of a law student from Sheffield University. Despite witness statements from the victim’s girlfriend and other professionals stating Nedim’s involvement, the charge of manslaughter was instead levelled at five Thai immigrant labourers.
These are the new facts about Nedim. One is a fluke. Two is a coincidence. Three, if there is a third incident, will be a trend.
Nevertheless, within a few days, the police cleared Nedim of assault. Meanwhile, his father, Nazri, said that he could not be responsible for his son’s actions.
So is there any point telling both father and son not to tarnish their family image? Unsurprisingly, cynics find it impossible to believe that anything could tarnish the image further.
There is one positive outcome of the Nedim case. Contrary to popular opinion, the police are not inefficient as they are made out to be. They can act and investigate quickly, if they want to.
Political observers believe that the improved performance of the police is for the benefit of Umno in the coming 13th general election. Umno ministers cannot be dragged down by their children’s careless disregard for the law. If necessary, these misdeeds will be swept under the carpet.
The run-up to the general election has been revolutionary. Suddenly, the law enforcement bodies, police and other government agencies are bending over backwards to exonerate Umno ministers.
Moreover, these government agencies are now tripping over themselves trying to blame the other for not doing their duty in the past. Witness the MACC claims that it is not afraid of investigating corruption, but that it is the DPP which is unwilling or reluctant to prosecute.
When Kartika Dewi Sukarno was arrested for consuming beer, her life was dangled before the world and subject to intense scrutiny. She was also within an inch of being flogged. Yet no one can recall a drunk Muslim politician or their children being subject to humiliating treatment. Only a fool would believe they are teetotal. Everyone, who has been clubbing in Kuala Lumpur, has seen these people drinking.
When a group of Penan girls and children were raped by loggers in the Sarawak jungles four years ago, it was a foreign NGO which revealed to the outside world that this was happening to our own people. Despite public condemnation, the police dragged their feet and politicians came up with a range of excuses why the crimes were fabricated. To date, justice has not been served.
Clearly, Malaysia is governed by two sets of rules. One for the haves, another for the have-nots. With the 13th general election around the corner, even the authorities are desperate to be seen to be doing something, when otherwise they were quite content to do nothing.
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.

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