BEFORE this column was written, the opinion of learned friends was sought as this newspaper does not want a mob outside its office. Could this scribe, a beer-drinking and bak kut teh loving person, write on a word that some believe is exclusively theirs? Would such a comment be against the rule of the religion? Would some religious zealot decree that those who used the word be subjected to the order given out on Salman Rushdie? Ordinarily, such thoughts would be described as "over-acting", but in times when mobs are allowed to rule under the watchful eyes of those in power, it is better to be safe than sorry.
So, consultation was done. We had an assurance from at least five fellow Malaysians who are Muslims, including my colleague Zainon Ahmad, that we can touch on the issue of jihad – not the holy war but on a pronouncement by the former women and family development minister and defeated Lembah Pantai member of Parliament, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.
Last week, she declared a jihad against an individual whom she said should not be given the chance to destroy the country’s political stability and prosperity. No one would have a quarrel with such a stand. After all, everyone has a right to declare war on anything. For that matter, the government had previously declared war on drugs, resulting in harsh penalties being imposed on traffickers and pushers.
So, while her jihad or war is against an individual, would it be more beneficial if our resources and efforts are directed at a bigger problem, if not the biggest problem facing our nation and its future?
We wonder if Shahrizat would make a similar stand on corruption and other immoral and unethical conduct which have afflicted our society. Such a war would certainly help the authorities to wipe out corruption. After all, the Corruption Perception Index does little to flatter the egos of those who claim that "we have won the war on corruption". Besides, she has the numbers behind her which she can mobilise to ensure that her jihad succeeds.
The Anti-Corruption Agency’s education unit can provide enough material to use in the jihad and more importantly, it would break all religious and racial barriers with people from all walks of life who view corruption as damaging the basic fabric of our society.
This may not be asking too much because time, effort and money spent on fighting an individual would be more useful in fighting something even our prime minister has commented about. Over to you, Datuk Seri Shahrizat.
TALKING about morality, Shahrizat’s successor at the ministry has sent out the wrong message by making a public stand that leaders should not be judged on their standards of morality. And if such a stand makes up part of her values, then it is all right to engage in other immoral acts such as corruption, dishonesty and misuse of power. Using the argument, then we as taxpayers and voters have no right to question or judge those who indulge in corrupt practices.
More than 25 years ago, this scribe interviewed prominent Pulitzer Prize winner, US journalist and columnist Jack Anderson, over Voice of America radio. He rose to fame exposing the antics of rogue politicians. His roguish techniques included eavesdropping, spiriting away classified documents, rifling through garbage and sometimes blatant threats – methods he defended as justified in his lifetime campaign to keep government honest.
One of the questions that we asked him was: "Who gives journalists the right to pry into the private affairs of people?"
His reply went something like this: "If your neighbour is having an affair with the gardener, I would call it private. But if we have a Senator who goes around preaching about moral standards and has fathered a child out of wedlock, the journalist has a right to expose him. If you want to be a leader, don’t have skeletons in your cupboard."
We are not in the least suggesting that all our leaders have skeletons in their cupboards, but I was shocked when the minister was quoted as saying: "I do not dare decide or judge someone else’s morality except my own. Can you give me a leader who scores a 100% mark in morality?"
Are we to assume that ALL our leaders will fail a simple morality test or can it be read as indication that we can brace ourselves for more video?
All said and done, Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen has two simple questions to answer. One: Was it morally right on her part to take an oath of allegiance to the King and country when being appointed Senator in the Dewan Negara while being a permanent resident of Australia? She has since said that she did it for the sake of her three children’s education. Then that too has to be answered: Was it morally right to take up PR status just for the sake of her children’s education? Did she not deceive the government of Australia? And more importantly by having one foot Down Under, is she implying that she does not have faith in the country’s future and its education system? People living in glass houses should not throw stones.
R. Nadeswaran is editor (special and investigative reporting at theSun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
.The Sun Online.