Malaysian politicians play us for fools

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Mariam Mokhtar

TO answer the question, “What is driving Malaysia apart?” first ask the question, “Why would anyone want to be a politician?”

Malaysian politicians play us for fools. They insult our intelligence, belittle democracy and break the laws. When they want to do something which they know is wrong, they hide behind the ulama or the unelected people who command the greatest respect meaning, the royals.

Some of you may claim that religion is driving Malaysia apart. No! Religion does not split Malaysia. Religion is just a tool used by politicians to divide us.

The scientist or mathematician use facts to back up his arguments and his theories, but when the ulama or politicians have a conversation about religion, many of us are forced to shrink away, not because we are afraid to discuss, but because the laws of the country are skewed in such a way, that they stifle and discourage discussion of “sensitive” topics.

Does race drive Malaysians apart? Again, no! Racial issues are another effective ploy, in the Umno-Baru, Bersatu (a clone of Umno-Baru), and PAS’ bag of tools, to drive a wedge between us.

Nor does corruption, because corruption is just a means to an end.

The primary force that drives Malaysia apart is greed.

Greedy politicians, who pursue material wealth, know that the only way to amass a fortune is by having power. With power comes the ability to control institutions and individuals.

The person who wields maximum power can influence the actions of others. His power over organisations like Jakim, or the community of Malays, or his power over key individuals, like the ulama, means that he can control our behaviour.

His power over his peers in his party means that he can dictate policies.

The man at the top wields so much power that he can use it to make others comply with his wishes. He rewards civil servants for promoting his policies, with a raise, bonus or promotion.

Conversely, the politician is acutely aware that he is also a slave to the power that he wields.

Prime ministers and ministers realise that they need to appease their civil servants, their main vote bank. They are conscious of the unhealthy two-way flow of power.

Didn’t former education minister Maszlee Malik find to his cost that his public relations team, was undermining him and he was powerless to act? He could not sack them, nor could he relocate them, without finding a department or ministry which would accept them.

Maszlee Malik

After Maszlee was sacked from his ministry, and when Pakatan Harapan had fallen, we found out about the allegations of toxic civil servants in his ministry, and perhaps all the ministries.

Maszlee’s PR team barely touched on the good things he had accomplished in his ministry. They were probably unhappy with his intention to reform the ministry and schools.

Many of the civil servants and teachers were probably too set in their ways to change. Moreover, a thinking student will be difficult to manipulate or control.

Underhand tactics used by civil servants 

To take their revenge, Maszlee’s PR team merely focused on the black shoes and swimming lessons issues, knowing the public would be outraged. This is the sort of underhand tactical power held by the civil servants and their unions.

Perhaps, this may explain why politicians, including both the ministers for women, family and community development and education, appear to drag their feet when censuring the teacher who joked about rape and the male schoolmate of teenager Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam, who threatened to rape her for supposedly tarnishing the reputation of their school.

Ministers know that to sack the teacher, were he to be found guilty, would cause great unhappiness in the ranks. There are many skeletons in the closets of the Education Ministry.

Previously, teachers who sexually molested their charges, raped them or exposed them to hardcore pornography, were transferred to schools in remote places.

In September 2019, the Sabah education department transferred a teacher who stapled the ear of a 10-year-old Likas schoolboy because he had not completed his homework.

Likewise, teachers at Pos Tohoi, who abused seven Orang Asli children who subsequently fled into the jungle, were never punished. Only two survived their seven-week ordeal.

Instead of dealing with the problem and protecting our children, our ministers are stuck in reverse. Their failure to act is to protect their position.

In November 2017, a 56-year-old MIC branch leader, who was also a teacher in a Tamil school, pestered the mother of a teenager, to urge her daughter to have sex with him.

His boasted to the mother, that her daughter should not “waste this wonderful opportunity” and warned her that she should not take too long to decide, because “other girls were waiting”.

In July 2020, a Universiti Malaya12 (UM) student who called herself “Ching” alleged that an associate professor had sexually assaulted her in his office on June 3, 2019.

These investigations fizzled out. UM, the civil servants in the Education Departments and the ministry closed ranks, to protect their own.

How many victims are there? The cases of sexual assault that make the newspapers form only the tip of the iceberg.

Those who tried to speak out were themselves threatened with rape or expulsion. It took great courage to go public and expose the sexual predators.

Sexual assault is a serious crime, but with their tidak apa attitude, our teachers, ministers and educational establishment have failed our womenfolk.

Their greed and desire to hold on to their positions renders them impotent to act. Greedy, irresponsible politicians tear the nation apart.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The New Sarawak.

This article first appeared in Malaysiakini