COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
24 June 2014
Who is in charge? What is happening in Malaysia? What’s going on? How can this happen?
Any of these questions or all of the above occupies the minds of many Malaysians these days, coming to the fore with vengeance every time there is a misstep by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his comrades or when the rule of law and provisions of the Federal Constitution are supplanted by racial and religious supremacists.
Increasingly, the sense is that the inmates are running the asylum.
The PM and elected representatives are too afraid to put the extremist elements in their place because their cupboards are full of skeletons or they are unsure if their religious credentials can stand up to scrutiny.
So they go with the flow directed and dictated by fringe groups and Islamic religious authorities.
The result: a heap of a mess and more questions than answers.
Questions that keep Malaysians awake deep into the night such as:
* Who is in charge?
Definitely not the man in Putrajaya.
He may live in the plush residence of the prime minister; may have a large security detail and the use of a luxurious jet to travel around the world and may even chair cabinet meetings but Najib is not leading the country.
On any issue from conversions to body snatching to the abysmal state of education in Malaysia to the flexing of power by sultans, he is a follower.
Often he takes a position after the discourse has been influenced and driven by Perkasa, Isma, bit players in Umno, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
His apologists argue that Malaysians have to expect this ambivalence because the voters did not give him the strong mandate he craved and needed at GE13.
That’s a sorry excuse. Anyone who puts himself up to lead Malaysia has to lead once given the mandate, no matter the size of the mandate.
If he believes, that he can only lead with a two-thirds majority control of Parliament to function, then step aside.
But as it stands today, the consensus is that Najib has abdicated decision-making to fringe groups and those who threaten him.
As a result, on any given day, it seems that those who shout loudest are setting the agenda for Malaysia.
* What’s going on?
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar finally ordered the police to go after a Muslim convert for flouting a civil court order.
The inspector-general of police, who had earlier said police would not interfere as two court orders were in force in the interfaith custody battle, has instructed Perak police chief Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani to return Muhammad Ridzuan Abdullah’s daughter, Prasana Diksa, to kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi.
Why did it take the police so long to get their act together? Perhaps, after 200 years of being the police force, they don’t know right from wrong.
That the Malaysian judiciary still has its powers and directives that must be followed.
If the police won’t take action after getting a court order, who else will respect the law? Anyone out there can just ignore the police as much as the police ignore the judiciary.
Won’t that lead to a breakdown in law and order? Or do the authorities care? Are we going by rule of law or rule by fear of religion?
As it is, anyone can threaten to slap or behead anyone else and that is not seen as an offence. Are the politicians convinced that most Malaysians are as full as hot air as they are?
There is the law. But it does not get the respect it deserves and only used when convenient.
* How can this happen?
Billions of ringgit are allocated for welfare programmes in Malaysia and there are substantial number of welfare officers and non-governmental organisations.
So how come we had to read this sad story of Muhammad Firdaus Dullah who was found covered in his own faeces and so malnourished that he could not stand up or even sit down.
The 15-year-old would have died had he not been discovered by chance by Immigration officers conducting checks to nab illegal immigrants in Seremban on June 21.
Yes, the boy’s mother has to bear a chunk of responsibility for leaving him in that sorry state. She has been arrested and could face up to 10 years in jail or be fined RM20,000.
But there are other questions that are troubling.
Why didn’t she reach out to welfare organisations or NGOs? Did she seek help and was turned away? Are there other children out there suffering from malnourishment in the land of plenty?
Did the neighbours know about his condition but choose to look the other way?
This sad, sad story is an indictment of the abject state of the Malaysian system. – June 24, 2014.