Malay politics is when ‘malu’ is no longer a dirty word

Turmoil, shenanigans, and hypocrisy have always been an integral part of the Malaysian political scene.

In the early years after Merdeka, such sentiments were not flagrant but low key, tempered by moral conscience and the feeling of malu (shame).

As Umno gained strength and saw its power virtually unchallenged, it started to lose this sense of shame that normally inhibits one’s lust and desires.

It became disposed to the materialistic accoutrements that came with power, while the people had to settle for crumbs.

The masses were made to believe that Umno was their only saviour that would ensure their wellbeing, and safeguard Islam and the position of the Malay rulers in Peninsula Malaysia.

The shift from an agricultural, to a manufacturing economy also saw the haemorrhaging of public funds. There were serious scandals, but since Umno was in power, this was kept under wraps.

Umno reigned supreme, and its leaders and members became arrogant and condescending, bereft of any sense of malu.

The people watched in awe at the lavish lifestyles of the elites who flaunted their wealth and influence. The people did not realise that it was their money that was being squandered.

While all this was going on, most Malays were struggling to survive in the lower income bracket, with a significant number living in abject poverty.

Against all odds, the country managed to maintain its economic progress, propped up by the revenue from oil.

However, a sizable amount of this revenue was allegedly diverted to fund political activities and campaigns.

Despite these shenanigans, there were significant and iconic projects that put Malaysia on the world map, such as the Petronas Twin Towers, the North-South Highway, Putrajaya, and the national car project, Proton.

When Datuk Seri Najib Razak took over as prime minister, the word malu completely lost its meaning. Najib’s unofficial motto – ‘Malu Apa Bossku’ – is the perfect epitaph for the loss of conscience and shame among politicians.

To be fair, Umno wasn’t the only one suffering from this deficiency. Pas leaders seem to condone such practices, especially after having tasted power.

Pas seems to have discarded the spiritual malu that typically constrains evil and wrongdoing, such as corruption.

As a result, corruption among politicians escalated and became overt.

The mother of all corruption cases was the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal that became a national embarrassment. Malaysia was ridiculed and condemned, and known the world over as a kleptocratic country.

Politically connected elites and warlords, who had access to public funds, put their hands in the cookie jar without fear, knowing that they were immune to prosecution.

Government coffers haemorrhaged. Case in point – the Defence Ministry spent RM6 billion on six littoral combat ships (LCS), but not a single one has been delivered.

The silence from the ministry is deafening.

The hereditary class, the Malay elites, and politicians squandered the country’s wealth with impunity.

1MDB, Tabung Haji, Felda, MAS, National Feedlot Corporation, all bore testimony to man’s unsatiated greed.

It was only after Pakatan Harapan defeated Umno and Barisan Nasional that the worms came crawling out of the woodwork.

The Malays seem to have lost their sense of malu and moral conscience and became mercenary. They abandoned their nationalistic, moral, and ethical principles for material wealth.

Political shenanigans and malfeasance that nurtured corrupt practices and abuse of power have become institutionalised.

It is endemic when institutions tasked with keeping these abuses in check are compromised and become subservient to political dictates.

This leads to an open season of corrupt practices and power abuse, as is currently happening in Malaysia.

With the current political leadership, the future looks bleak, unless there is a revamp of the political landscape with fresh blood and selfless young politicians unencumbered by, and not subservient to race, religion, and royalty.

It is hoped that GE15 will change the feudalistic mindset of the Malays, thaw the bigotry and chauvinistic sentiments, and herald in a new era of coexistence, based on mutual respect and equality.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

Tagged with: