Malaysia, a land of conundrums and bizarreness

Malaysia is a land of surprises and conundrums – at times bizarre, sometimes comical, and most of the time, perplexing.

This was once a land of simple, hard-working folks, eking out an honest living using the bountiful resources at their disposal.

Ethical and moral values governed their lives, thus creating a harmonious atmosphere among the various communities.

But the social, cultural, and economic societal matrix changed as a result of changing values and aspirations, driven by political imperatives. This created confusion with regard to moral values, where right or wrong is no longer based on ethical principles.

As a result, the once harmonious social structure has morphed into a caste system of the privileged hereditary class – the political and corporate elites, the titled community, and at the very bottom, the common folk.

This class division has impacted the regulatory practice of institutional agencies. For example, the principle that everyone is equal under the law, is now in question, for laws seem to be applied in inverse proportion to one’s status, connections, and station in society.

It appears that cases involving the poor and destitute are summarily disposed of, the sentences carried out immediately, while those involving the elites and the politically connected are long-drawn.

One such infamous case is the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) saga, dubbed “the heist of the century”.

This case involves a former prime minister who had been convicted by the courts but still walks freely, and still retains his parliamentary seat. He even had the audacity to advise the august house on good governance and address the scourge of corrupt practices.

In other countries, a convicted person would have his rights curbed, and freedom restrained, at the very least. Or, he would have been incarcerated until the final appeal. In fact, most of his accomplices in other countries have been tried, sentenced, and imprisoned.

But not in Malaysia, where the justice system appears to be super meticulous, long-drawn, and ever so considerate, even extending a convicted person special privileges.

Where else in the world can a person, convicted of the biggest corruption scandal ever – thus anointing Malaysia as the bastion of kleptocracy and causing a national embarrassment – be invited to the King’s official function of iftar (the breaking of fast) during the holy month of Ramadan.

Like pouring salt on an open wound, this person was placed on the main table with the King, the prime minister, and other political and judicial dignitaries. From his high station, he looked down on a gathering of guests, including top civil servants, judges, politicians and foreign ambassadors, and dignitaries.

Nothing could be more bizarre, or incredulous.

How does one reconcile the fact that a person convicted of corruption, money laundering, and abuse of power (and is still facing two other charges), which contravene the tenets of Islam, is given recognition during the religious occasion of fasting – one of the five pillars of Islam?

It is difficult for the rakyat to fathom the rationale behind this bizarre incident, as even illustrious personages are rarely given such honours.

It creates the impression that our ethical and moral values have been compromised. It gives the wrong signal to the younger generation, that atrocious behaviour and actions that run afoul of the law are condoned, as long as you have the “right connections”.

This incident has compromised the decorous ethical and moral values of this society that are not only cherished by the people, but are critical in fostering good principles and values in the younger generation. We are now caught in a bizarre situation of inexplicable conundrums.

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