Archive for February 16th, 2009

Privacy and Our Political Culture

By Farish A. Noor

Politics, we must remember, is something that takes place in the public domain. And it is in that public domain that politicians are judged for their actions, good and bad, right and wrong. The worth of a politician and his/her standing depends entirely on his/her conduct in the execution of the responsibilities that have been entrusted upon them by the public who voted them into office. And if they fail in the execution of those duties, then we the public have every justifiable right to demand an explanation from them. In the final analysis, it is we the public who determine the fate of the politicians we elect to represent us, and never vice-versa.

Politics, however, has its limits and the frontier of the political ends where the private domain begins. Politicians are human beings and it would be the mistake of the public to assume and expect our politicians to behave in a manner that is extraordinary by public standards. For that simple reason the public also has no right to expect politicians to be and remain politicians every hour, every day and every year of their lives; for politicians too have every right to be human and to have the privacy that we expect for ourselves. In the same way that we hope and wish that our elected representatives will defend the privacy of our lives, so should we extend that very same right to them, for they too are ultimately citizens like the rest of us.

It is therefore sad, to say the least, that the level of Malaysian politics and political culture has descended to a new low with the latest revelation of yet another sex scandal that involves a democratically elected state assemblywoman serving in the state government of Selangor, Ms Elizabeth Wong. This comes not too long after another sordid scandal involving another politician – Chua Soi Lek – who was likewise scandalised by revelations of his private life being made public. In both cases one can only assume that the motivation behind this intrusion into the private domain was political in nature.

Much has already been written about the two cases and the facts remain unclear over what actually happened in the case of the unfortunate Ms Wong, so I will not dwell upon that here. Read the rest of this entry »


“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”

In his royal address at the annual opening of Parliament today, the Yang Pertuan Agong called on Malaysians “from all walks of life, irrespective of political affiliation, to work together for the development of our beloved country”.

The King stressed that “all parties, including political groups should demonstrate wisdom and maturity and not act in any way detrimental to the country’s stability and economic development”.

This royal call should be the national imperative as the one and only preoccupation of Malaysians is how to be more united, resolute and competitive so that Malaysia can tide over the world’s worst global economic crisis in 80 years, with many predicting a looming recession for the country.

But the King’s advice has fallen on deaf ears. Read the rest of this entry »