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Political needs first, family values last

 | August 22, 2012

Shahrizat Abdul Jalil shamed herself when she told the court that her family led 'independent lives'.

COMMENT

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. – Sir Walter Scott

I would have preferred to remember Shahrizat Abdul Jalil for the work she did in resettling squatters during her time as the Member of Parliament of Lembah Pantai for 13 years.

I lived in Bangsar for most of that time and I have seen the changes Shahrizat brought to Lembah Pantai, which was all for the better.

I would have preferred to remember her for her work as Minister of Women, Family and Community Development in protecting and fighting for the rights, needs and protection of women in our nation.

I would have preferred to remember Shahrizat for her graciousness in accepting defeat in the 12th general election at the hands of a 27-year-old Nurrul Izzah Anwar.

But all this is not to be.

This is not how I thought Shahrizat would have handled herself on NFC (National Feedlot Corporation). I thought she is made of sterner stuff.

The public humiliation of Shahrizat has just begun and the pity of it all is that she is doing it herself with no help from anyone else.

We are seeing the gradual disintegration of a once promising political career of one of those few politicians within Umno of any note.

All this is done sans privacy, sans dignity, sans the possibility of any resurrection of a political future now in tatters. And all because greed, like cancer, takes no prisoners and knows no friends.

Greed destroys anyone unwise enough to fall for its allure and all those unwise enough to make greed their constant companion.

The tragedy of Shahrizat’s public humiliation and her summary political execution is one we are all too familiar with.

Living in the past

High public office in Malaysia all too often ensures the corruption of those unfortunate enough to be granted the dubious honour of holding that office. Shahrizat is no exception.

Umno ministers are living in the past. Today there is the Internet and the court of public opinion has already found Shahrizat guilty.

Even as you read this, her words are being sent from one end of Malaysia to the other end.

From East Malaysia to West Malaysia and from its North to its South.

As Altantuya will continue to haunt Najib Tun Razak even in death, Shahrizat’s words will haunt her even when her defamation suit against her detractors is over.

And what are these words that she said? She said that she was not aware of her husband’s role in NFCorp. That she had no idea where her son drove to work every day or what he worked as. That her family lived independent lives.

Has it not been said that the shifting away from family values is one fatal flaw no sitting government must ever make if it is to prevent the nation and its own rapid decline?

This Umno-led Barisan Nasional government is already guilty of allowing this to happen within its ranks many times over.

Family values gone to dogs

Do we not see this in our ex-chief justice and in (Sabah MP) Bung Radin Mokhtar, who both shamed their family by marrying another one without permission of their first wife and then have all this played out in the public eye?

In the sexual tryst of MCA’s Dr Chua Soi Lek now forever embedded in the public domain courtesy of the Internet and yet MCA rewarded this man with its presidency?

In the antics of a “raba-raba” minister who was rewarded with a posting to the most prestigious of diplomatic appointments for his outrage of a maiden’s modesty?

And who could forget Rahim Thamby Chik’s alleged dalliances that cost him the chief minister’s post of Malacca.

Rahim, too, has since been rewarded by Umno with the chairmanship of Risda and a return to Umno’s first-tier leadership because Umno is in need of his “expertise”.

All family values thrown to the dogs for political expedience. And now Shahrizat.

Shahrizat said Rafizi Ramli is an “anak derhaka” (unfilial son), that he “menjual agama” (has sold his religion) and “hancur bangsa” (destroyed his race).

In her view, Rafizi, who is an unfilial son who sells his own religion and destroys his race, has insulted and defamed her.

Oh how the powerful and the rich think themselves more important than family values, race and God.

Failed as mother, wife

In all of Shahrizat’s utterances, made, I am sure, in a vain attempt to proclaim her innocence in matters relating to NFCorp, she has dammed herself, if not to the courts, then to all of us.

I am sure in her moment of clarity she will live to regret making these claims, but common sense never prevails in times when you need it most.

By these words she is telling us that she has failed as a mother.

Which mother would not have known what her children are doing unless she did not care?

Would not any normal family discuss things? And hers was not a normal family then?

She has failed as a wife. What wife would not have known what her husband was doing unless she did not care?

Either way she has dammed herself in our eyes.

She felt the statements made by Rafizi and Zuraida Kamaruddin were “not only offensive and defamatory, but they are outright insulting”.

What does she think of the gutter politics being thrown at Anwar Ibrahim? What did she think about the many deaths in police custody? About Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamed?

Umno destroyed Malay race

Rafizi had a good teacher – Umno.

Are not all these acts done by her own Umno upon others that went past being offensive and defamatory to the victims and their families? And what is she doing about it?

Was it not the (former) president of Umno, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who used gutter politics to justify his persecution, not prosecution, of Anwar?

Was it not Umno that took out Salleh Abas from the judiciary in order to suit Mahathir’s need to subjugate the judiciary to the political power he then held?

And in so doing ended the independence of the judiciary? A crime not only to Salleh but also to the people of this nation?

Was it not Umno that “menderhaka” and almost destroyed the Malay race with its misuse of Ketuanan Melayu and Bumiputera status to keep its own elites (of which you are one) in wealth through cronyism and nepotism?

Was it not Umno that uses “agama” to justify all its action as Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak so recently attested: “We do not want Islam to be associated with poverty.

“But instead we want Muslims to become a people who are courageous and virtuous. This is what is taught in Islam and should become our aspiration.”

Najib said the religion prioritised economic development, and this was being practised by the government which ensured that development was consistent through the years.

It is despicable of Najib to equate what Umno does to what Islam wants them to do. Islam does not want you to be corrupt, arrogant or greedy. Umno wants to be corrupt, arrogant and greedy!

A minor obstruction

While Umno tells us that the consequence of their defeat will be devastating for us, we look at a future with Umno with despair.

While our people are searching for compatible issues to draw them together, Umno continues to divide and rule our people as they have done all these years.

After 50 years of Umno, we want something different. Change comes by the definition of a horizon. We know what a real democracy brings to other parts of the world and we want it too.

That is the horizon we aspire to and will work towards. It is the age of equality of rights, participation, and a voice for our people – we do not live by bread alone.

This drives us all to do what we have to do to bring about change in our nation and anything that stands in its way are minor obstructions. NFCorp is one of these minor obstructions.

Shahrizat has unfortunately chosen to drink from the poison chalice that her husband and family have handed to her and we the public will only say ”You got your just desserts”. And you have no one to blame but yourself! Amen.

CT Ali is a reformist who believes in Pakatan Rakyat’s ideologies. He is a FMT columnist.


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