Khairy isn’t the problem, it is us

27 November 2014

Khairy Jamaluddin reminds us of our biggest problem here in Malaysia. But the problem is not Khairy. It is us, Malaysians.

We are too gullible; too believing; too easily duped by form over substance; too game to discard evidence and rely instead on occasional warm fuzzy rhetoric.

Khairy Jamaluddin, the Oxford-educated erudite politician, the young voice of reason who was going to pull Malaysia from the cusp of racial and extremist ruin, was a figment of our own imagination.

It was the height of stupidity and no small measure of irresponsibility to believe that one ambitious politician would enter the corrupt and extremist eco-system of Umno and would somehow, not only emerge undamaged but would be able to, turn the hordes of blinkered and self-serving individuals into a legion of progressive and moderate souls.

Would this even be possible in a Hollywood movie? Far greater men and women than Khairy Jamaluddin have talked about making change from within and failed miserably.

Why should a young politician – who knows that playing by Umno’s rules and speaking its language and doing its bidding is the only way he is going to reach the apex of Malaysian politics – even consider upsetting the status quo?

Why? No reason for him to do so. Peel away all the layers – the intelligence, the education, the Tun Abdullah Badawi connection – and what we get is this: an ambitious young politician who wants to become the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Forget all that nonsense about moderation, the occasional barbs with Perkasa and the rare conscience-attacks.

His family and friends defend him, saying that he is a politician. And they are right, as much as we are damn fools.

And so it was imperative for Khairy to talk about the need to keep the Sedition Act, tapping a popular vein in his party.

He was silent on the abuse of the Sedition Act by the Umno-controlled government – the abuse that ignited clamour for the dismantling of this piece of legislation.

Should we have expected any Umno politician to defend the rights of Dr Azmi Sharom and other academics to speak freely? Definitely not. So, why do we expect Khairy to be any different from any Umno politician?

Because over the years, we have fooled ourselves into thinking that this man with his “Oxford education” and “enlightened ideas” was somehow different than Datuk Ibrahim Ali or Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi or Datuk Ahmad Maslan.

More polished? Definitely. Different? Definitely not.

But that is not Khairy Jamaluddin’s problem. That is our problem: we duped ourselves into thinking that a politician with his eye on the big prize would be an agent of change. – November 27, 2014.

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