Malaysians must condemn politicians who tarnish our dignity with their brutish behaviour, who muddle our politics and bring shame to our way of life, writes P Ramakrishnan.
In the good old days, when schools emphasised character and good manners, they turned out individuals imbibed with values that were commendable. They grew up remembering to say “Please”, “Thank you”, “Excuse me”, “Sorry”, “May I?”, etc – which made them out to be people of character.
Over the years, somehow or other, we have forgotten this great virtue of grace that greases our social intercourse. We now have crude and rude individuals with no manners at all. We rue the loss of this etiquette. It hits you hard when a person of standing in our society and in our midst comes across as ill-mannered and foul-mouthed!
Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz’s diatribe against Robert Kuok was shocking and dismaying. His vile and virulent attack was uncalled for in the absence of any solid evidence to cause or justify such an inexplicably intemperate outburst.
He did this without verifying the allegations in Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s unsubstantiated and scandalous articles, which claimed that Kuok had funded DAP to help bring down the Barisan Nasional government by overthrowing Umno.
If a person in the street got taken in by this spurious claim by a fugitive residing in England, he could be forgiven but for a lawyer to take what was written as gospel truth is mind-boggling. There was no shred of evidence – or even a remote possibility – that Kuok could have funded DAP to bring down the Barisan Nasional.
This is why we are utterly disappointed and baffled that Nazri went on a tirade against Kuok without the benefit of hard facts and solid evidence to justify his no-holds-barred assault.
Didn’t Nazri say in 2013, “I have a few hats to wear – politician, social worker, lawyer. But I am a lawyer first above everything else, even above my political party.”
If he was a lawyer first and foremost, wouldn’t it have been his duty to ensure that whatever Raja Petra wrote was verified truth, nothing but the truth, before he went on a rampage to run Kuok down? He disparaged Kuok in an uncharacteristic manner for a lawyer of some standing. It was shocking coming from him.
The language that Nazri chose to mount his attack was unbelievable. Calling Kuok a “pondan”, a “betina ayam”, someone “without testicles”, and “a coward” was unbecoming of a cabinet minister. He came across as uncouth, uncultured and ill-mannered. His seeming bravado did nothing to enhance his credibility or maturity. On the other hand, he came across as a blabber-mouth. His pompous manner and couldn’t-be-bothered attitude did him no credit as a member of Parliament.
If Nazri for whatever reason wanted to criticise Kuok, that was his right. He should have had some good sense to do so with a finesse in language in keeping with his status as a member of Parliament and cabinet minister. He should have had irrefutable proof and evidence before flying off the handle.
Instead, he resorted to gutter politics with his foul mouth, without verifying Raja Petra’s lies.
People see Nazri as insolent and arrogant. And they may even conclude that he is a lout.
It is said, “People get to know about who you are, by your manners, polite behaviour, and polished etiquette. … Manners maketh the man. Nothing is worse or more unbecoming than a man with poor manners.”
CIMB Bank chairperson Nazri Razak, who is no less than the prime minister’s brother, described Kuok as “a patriot, the icon of Malaysian business and a first-class gentleman”. He claimed that he was “lucky enough” to have spent time with Robert Kuok over “many years”.
The longest serving former International Trade Minister, Rafidah Aziz, referred to Kuok as a man of integrity, honesty and ethics: “I never saw him in any light other than as a person whose principles and values the younger generation should emulate.”
To run down a man of such stature and standing rather callously and rudely reflects poorly on Nazri. It reveals thuggish behaviour, which must be roundly condemned by Malaysians who have a high regard and respect for exemplary conduct.
Nazri was not only lacking in good manners but surprisingly also bereft of logic. Why should Nazri challenge Kuok to contest in the coming general election? Is it his contention that all critics must take part in the elections? What utter rubbish!
And what right has Nazri to ask Kuok to surrender his citizenship? Why should a man who is viewed as a patriot renounce his citizenship?
Kuok has denied funding the DAP and Lim Kit Siang has also denied receiving any money from him.
On top of that, Raja Petra was ordered to take down his scandalous articles, thus clearly establishing the fact that those articles were nothing but lies! He took down the articles without a whimper.
Now that it has been established that there was no truth to those articles, shouldn’t Nazri, like a gentleman, apologise to Kuok and the DAP? But he has stubbornly refused to do so. That doesn’t speak well for his character.
Indeed, he makes a mockery of his own lofty proclamation: “If I have done something wrong, I will apologise but if I know that my stand is a principled stand, I will hold my ground, no matter what people say about me.”
Do you still insist that you were not wrong in attacking Kuok based on Raja Petra’s concocted lies and that yours was a principled stand in this issue?
Didn’t you say way back in August 2015: “My views are independent because I believe that what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong, so I will always tell it as it is”?
Were you right in “telling it as it is”? You have unjustly denigrated a man who is highly regarded as “a patriot, the icon of Malaysian business and a first-class gentleman”, “a man of integrity, honesty and ethics”, “a person whose principles and values the younger generation should emulate”.
Do you still insist that you don’t owe him an apology?
Malaysians must decide whether people like Nazri deserve to be elected once again. Would they want someone like him to represent Malaysians who have a strong sense of shame, who appreciate what is right and wrong?
It is time for thinking, feeling and caring Malaysians to take a bold stand without fear or favour. They must condemn politicians who tarnish our dignity with their brutish behaviour, who muddle our politics and bring shame to our way of life.
Let’s act taking courage in the words of Robert Kennedy: “Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.”