OUTSPOKEN: The recent public spat between the Crown Prince of Johor, Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim, popularly known as TMJ (Tengku Mahkota Johore) and Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz showed that under Umno Baru, two rules apply.
One for the ordinary people and another for Umno Baru ministers. The irony is that it took a prince to force ministers to acknowledge that they lord it over the rakyat.
Najib Razak should have ordered his minister to stop escalating tensions between royalty and ministers. Regardless of who is right or wrong, it is most unbecoming of ministers to act in an uncultured manner.
Nazri behaved like a fish wife, trading insults over the garden fence, while others say he acted like a gangster. Najib’s silence reflects on his poor leadership skills, and heightens the enmity and fragile co-existence between the common man, ministers and the royal household.
TMJ did not mince his words, when he rebuked Nazri, on social media and said, “You are a minister, not a God from the heavens who lords over everybody. Do not think that the people of this country exist to provide you with position and wealth. The position exists for you to serve the people.”
The prince wanted to remind politicians of their roles and responsibilities and said, “… If you cannot deal with that, it just shows your arrogance to the people.”
“I envision a future that every person has a right to voice their opinions. However, that is not the case in Malaysia today, where ministers think they are untouchable,” he added.
TMJ is right. Ministers are Malaysia’s “untouchables”. Ministers can do no wrong. They are not subject to the laws which govern the rakyat. Ministers and their cronies, escape all punishment. Any court judgement appears to work in their favour, with only minimal fines.
The following are possibly Malaysia’s most notorious untouchables:
Dr Mahathir Mohamad may crow about Najib’s corruption and his link with Altantuya, but Mahathir’s laundry list of crimes against the nation, is as long, if not longer, than Najib’s. The monopoly of Malaysia’s major industries from padi to power supply, transport to telecommunication are self-evident. When things go wrong, as in the PKFZ scandal, no one is found guilty.
Mahathir denied ordering the detention of people in Operation Lalang and distanced himself from Project IC. He shifted the blame for the emasculation of the judiciary to TMJ’s grandfather. Malaysians who consider Mahathir a hero, for taking up the rakyat’s cause, fail to realise that Mahathir has a hidden agenda.
Across the South China Sea, Sarawak Governor Taib Mahmud is East Malaysia’s most prominent untouchable. Despite various disclosures by Bruno Manser Fonds and Sarawak Report, the MACC can find nothing concrete against Taib. The syariah courts find it difficult to prosecute his son, Bekir, for his infidelity and refusal to pay alimony to his wife. Being untouchable is perhaps, hereditary.
Najib’s role in the Perak coup d’état of 2009, was an act of treason but Najib is an untouchable and no court can, or will, find him guilty. It helps when the PM and his deputy, close one eye to wrongdoings in government. All that matters is that Umno Baru triumphs.
Despite the contradictory statements issued over 1MDB, Najib is still in charge of Putrajaya. The various departments, which conduct the investigations, the Attorney General and the IGP all report to him. That figures!
Untouchables are not limited to men. Former Minister for Family, Women and Community Development, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and her family were involved in the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal, but the investigation into this fraud, has more or less fizzled out.
Despite Shahrizat’s family’s alleged abuse of the funds, allocated for the NFC, and the evidence collected by opposition politicians, there has been no prosecution of the key players in the NFC corruption. Scapegoats are plentiful.
The ulamas create divisions in society. They work hand-in-glove with Umno Baru and use religion to control the behaviour of Malaysians. They support one another’s hidden agenda. The ulamas are another strong group of untouchables in Malaysia.
Extremist NGOs like Isma and Perkasa are also untouchable. They are outsourced by Umno Baru to cause tension and create distractions, when bad news hits the country. They make false claims about Malays being proselytised and make false accusations of Malays being “influenced” to convert, by the crosses on top of churches.
Other untouchables are institutions like the Election Commission. Despite allegations of cheating in elections, the EC is not subject to scrutiny and has long-term plans to make Umno Baru win in future elections.
Ordinary ministers, like Nazri, are untouchable. Nazri was not charged with sedition for rebuking TMJ and only had his knuckles rapped for “making mischief”. Opposition MP Nizar Jamaluddin, was charged with sedition, for tweeting that the money spent on the Sultan of Johore’s WWW1 car registration plate, could have been put to better use, to help the poor.
Engineer Chan Hong Keong was jailed for one year and fined RM50,000 for sedition, for insulting the late Sultan Azlan Shah in appointing Zambry Abdul Kadir as Perak mentri besar, in the Perak coup d’état.
Despite the 4R rule using ‘race, religion, rural people and royalty’ to control the rakyat, Malaysia appears to be unravelling at the seams, and lurches from one toe-curling embarrassment to another. This is perhaps, the curse of the Dalits.
Mariam Mokhtar is “a Malaysian who dares to speak the truth”.