By Francis Paul Siah
FIRSTLY, Let me refer to MIC vice-president Sivarraajh Chandran’s commentary where he ticked off PKR’s Hulu Kinta assemblyperson, Muhammad Arafat Mahammad Varisai for the latter’s statement on the Thaipusam chariot procession’s ritual.
I will refrain from being judgemental as I have not been following the case closely. Neither am I a Hindu, so it isn’t right to wade into a debate concerning a faith which I do not profess.
However, what is noteworthy is this salvo from Sivarraajh – “if one has common sense, one would never comment or talk about any subject without having a basic understanding of the matter”.
The key term is “common sense”. It simply means “good sense and sound judgement in practical matters”.
When politicians engage in a debate, common sense is often thrown out of the window because each side will always insist on being in the right. In most cases, it is impossible to meet half-way.
An example where common sense is totally lacking is the recent spat between DAP Youth chief Howard Lee Chuan How and Deputy National Unity Minister Ti Lian Ker of the MCA.
Lee criticised Ti for allegedly playing up Chinese sentiment, stating that “this is the sad state of affairs that we are living in when the deputy minister for national unity keeps spewing the Chinese versus Chinese narrative”.
This is after Ti claimed the DAP failed to represent the Chinese community adequately and had given in to Malay leaders while it was in government.
What a silly and absurd statement from Ti!
If I were in the MCA today, I would never have brought up that pointer against the DAP. That would surely backfire as MCA was in the same boat for some six decades (first in the Alliance, then in Barisan Nasional) sucking up to the Malays leaders in Umno.
It is clear that Ti, by his less than politically savvy salvo at the DAP, has set fire to the MCA kitchen. The MCA veep has burnt the ‘wagging dog’ tail of his party. Unintentionally perhaps, he has brought up a most tainted past of his own party, something which MCA would surely want to remain buried and forgotten.
Mr Ti, if you wish to tarnish the image of the DAP, perhaps you should zero in on the “good life” some DAP leaders seem to be indulging in now. Entitlement or not, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s RM500,000 new official car is an example. Chow’s apology was too little too late.
Then, some DAP leaders, notably those from Perak, Malacca and Sabah, have also become status-conscious. They were quick to accept datukships, some in their first term as lawmakers and going against their party’s policy on the matter.
Such issues resonate with the urban Chinese voters. Many are suffering, and they will not tolerate such extravagance of Chinese leaders, including those from the DAP.
Ask me. I’m a Chinese and an urban voter too. As I place simplicity and humility high on my list, these are my main grouses against some DAP people.
I also think that Lee was correct in ticking off Ti as the national unity deputy minister sowing seeds of intra-ethnic division using the racial card. That’s a double whammy for the MCA veep.
Ti should take some hard lessons here. He must never forget the responsibilities associated with his portfolio, failing which he has no one to blame but himself if others think that he is a mere career politician, unworthy to represent the Chinese community in the government.
On Lee’s charge that “MCA supported a coup against the elected Pakatan Harapan government”, I think the DAP man made little sense.
What? Does Lee expect the MCA to side with Harapan? MCA was a BN component going into GE14 and Harapan plus DAP were their political adversaries.
Surely, it is only natural for MCA to go along with BN. Be it backdoor or front door, unholy or holy matrimony, this is politics. Lee should be aware that there is little or no brotherhood among politicians, even from the same race or religion. Or even within the DAP, as Lee only knows too well.
What I hope is that our politicians will debate with common sense and stop indulging in petty quarrels which are childish and pathetic. I think the spat between MCA’s Ti and DAP’s Lee falls in that category.
Two days ago, I sent this earnest appeal to politicians in my homeland, Sarawak.
In a public post, I wrote: “I appeal to Sarawak politicians from both sides to stop taking potshots at each other. Politics should not be about gunning each other down all the time.
“Bear in mind that no one is perfect and all have weaknesses and failings. Fault-finding, in most cases, is childish and pathetic.
“The real enemy now is Covid-19, not our political opponents.
“What is important now is for all of us to cooperate and fight this invincible deadly virus together.
With the worsening pandemic and more deaths reported daily, who cares about politics and power. Let’s put a stop to political wrangling and toxic politics.
“Politics and elections are of no priority at this point in time,” I concluded.
Now, I wish to forward this same appeal to all Malaysian politicians.
Francis Paul Siah is the author of Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan. This piece first appeared in Malaysiakini