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Monday, July 26, 2021

Too many politicians taking the easy way out

 

Malaysians have been taught many painful lessons over the years, but our politicians, especially when they are in power, don’t seem to learn much.

Instead of taking heed of the importance of public accountability and integrity, our Yang Berhormats have become more known for making decisions laced with heavy doses of politics for the sake of – what else – their own convenience or their own interest.

The guise of public interest is used to mask the reality that the politicians or their party are seeking an advantage over their rivals, as the power play continues to worsen after more than a year.

Despite the country’s dire straits, expediency still seems to drive many political decisions, subtly or otherwise. Of course, there is no shred of direct evidence but such claims have been made by those affected.

Recently, two former ministers made statements that included an alarming accusation about previous and current government leaders abusing the instruments of government in order to have things go their way.

Former federal territories minister Tengku Adnan Mansor claimed that the corruption charges levelled against him would have been dropped in the “blink of an eye” if he had left Umno to join Bersatu under Dr Mahathir Mohamad after the 2018 general election.

“I was one of the selected few chosen to be prosecuted when I refused to obey Tun’s order,” he said last week after he was freed by the Court of Appeal.

His release was followed by accusations, all unsubstantiated, of a “deal” having been made to support the Perikatan Nasional-led government, which has come under severe pressure over its apparent lack of a mandate.

Then came the sudden criminal case brought against former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, which alleged he had misused party funds while he was in Bersatu.

Syed Saddiq, who is the Muar MP, claimed that he had been threatened by the government since last year to comply with certain requests, or face the consequences.

Many Malaysians questioned the timing of the charges against him, just days before Parliament is reconvened for a special meeting. One must remember, MACC began investigations in June last year.

The case of Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, an Umno warlord, also comes to mind. Few lost sleep or shed tears when the PN government rightly booted out Tajuddin as the Prasarana chairman following his “Probok” press conference on the LRT train crash in May.

But less than 24 hours after the sacking, alarm bells sounded and questions were raised when Tajuddin was detained by MACC for several hours before being released on bail in an investigation into abuse of power, according to reports.

The timing of the arrest raised all kinds of speculation, more so in Umno circles, because of the ongoing “war” between Umno and Bersatu.

Before the Tajuddin case, Malaysians had already been questioning a sudden move by former minister Xavier Jayakumar, quitting PKR to declare support for PN and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Xavier was a PKR vice-president at the time and had been a strong Anwar Ibrahim supporter. He was also under MACC investigation, together with his former aide, over bribery allegations.

The investigation was confirmed by MACC’s top gun, Azam Baki, on Feb 24. Three weeks later, Xavier ditched the party that had given him a political life.

Since then, there has not been any news about the probe.

Malaysians have become increasingly sceptical, simply because they have seen a lot of things being done out of political expediency, and few actions carried out in the public interest or with integrity.

These include the decision by then attorney-general Tommy Thomas to drop corruption charges against Lim Guan Eng when Pakatan Harapan was in power. Some argued that Lim should have gone through the trial and proved his innocence.

Many also questioned the decision by the current AG, Idrus Harun, who withdrew all 46 charges against former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman soon after PN took power in March last year.

Five months later, Musa tried to topple the Warisan-led state government, resulting in Warisan calling a snap general election to the state assembly but losing power to a new pro-Muhyiddin coalition state government that took over.

Another matter still fresh in the minds of the public is the offer of positions in government-linked companies made to several Umno and PAS members and MPs of other parties to ensure support for PN. This is seen as another blatant display of political expediency.

It must be said that this practice of political quid pro quo has existed since the time of Mahathir’s first watch as prime minister.

In his second watch, while being the PH prime minister, there were rumblings about the tactics that he used to trigger a defection of MPs from Umno to Bersatu to strengthen the party. More than a dozen crossed over initially.

It was another case of raw power exercised for political covenience.

In all these cases, the public had every right to expect the authorities to carry out their investigations without fear or favour. They also have every right to expect the government to respect the independence of these institutions.

If the current crop of leaders keep their ears to the ground and listen to the pounding of angry feet, I can assure you they will go deaf.

Many now link the “disastrous” handling of Covid-19 over the last 18 months to the “damaging politicking,” right from the Sheraton Move that led to the change in government.

And, sadly, this is continuing unabated.

 

Many people link the government’s disastrous handling of the Covid-19 crisis to the politicking that began with the Sheraton Move. - FMT

 

 

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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