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Explaining away the lie

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Lies cannot be explained away. The more this is done, the greater is the cost to personal integrity, and all who condone lying, hurt themselves, says K Haridas.

We all know what telling a lie means.

We also know how we react when caught. There is often an attempt to deny, and then when cornered, there is often rationalisation, blame and even, in some cases, justification. Then there are all shades of black and white lies.

Yet from a young age we are taught and told not to tell a lie. Yet life is not a straight road and there are moments when we do tell lies. The consequences only arise when we are caught.

Can anyone believe that a donor gave RM2.6bn? I find that far-fetched. That this is perhaps not true is highlighted by the different ways it is being explained away by different cronies. Edition after edition of the so-called truth has been uttered, with each crony adding greater spice to the whole story. If it was a donation, then why return it?

Truth can be explained very simply. The word, deed and integrity of the person carries it.

Lies, on the contrary, cannot be explained away. The more this is done, the greater is the cost to personal integrity, and all who condone lying, hurt themselves. Explaining a lie does not clarify the truth any more than truth requires justification from the lie. Why do people who know the truth keep silent? These are questions that need reflection from all involved in politics and government.

Muhyiddin did his homework as deputy prime minister and had called the former attorney general to ascertain the status and, we are told, it was indicated that there was clear evidence that called for prosecution.

Why is he now being vilified? Respond to his challenge if there is nothing to hide. This is akin to going after the messenger without clarifying the truth. Are the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sarawak Report and the Economist all lying?

When men in responsible positions utter lies, the consequences are great. Can we continue to trust a prime minister and finance minister who does this? Already the serious trust deficit explains the Catch-22 position he finds himself.

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When someone does not face the truth, then justifications, rationalisation and blame are evident, and these further highlight the questionable nature of what is said. It was Lenin who said, “Promises are like pie cakes made to be broken.” Perhaps we have some good practitioners here.

For years, the culture of the Barisan Nasional (BN) has provided the signature for money politics in Umno and all the component parties. This is also because our religiously inclined politicians did not come out with clear polices regarding electoral funding. Their personal piousness and religiosity does not have any relationship with corruption and illegal funding.

Party leaders ensure that they remain in power by providing financial endearments to those eligible to take part in the voting process to ensure the status quo always remains.

The politics of money power ensures that leaders become subservient, and this either kills their enthusiasm or conditions new leaders to such realities.

Party presidents, through money power, assert control. And when this becomes the culture and the basis for political operations, then what it breeds is the notion that everyone has a price be they divisional heads, supreme council members or even cabinet ministers. This is in Najib’s style as spelt out in the expression “I help you and you help me-lah”!

When such practices continue for decades as is highlighted by Umno and BN’s reign in Malaysia, then can you fault politicians who after 40 years in power are not capable of distinguishing between means and ends and between telling the truth and explaining a lie? Najib’s truth seems to be reflected in the right he denies and the wrong that he justifies.

The culture of money politics then takes root. This has no relationship with religion be it Islam, Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism. Culture establishes the standards. Religion is a mere fashion. Look at Pas and their capacity to rationalise and not take a stand on the corrupt behaviour of leaders.

Yet, they would be the first to champion the cause of hudud. Add to this the dimension of race, and all values disappear. Our politicians by and large use religion purely as a fashion.

They are motivated by race and culture, and this is what ethnic-based politics promotes, namely chauvinism and extremism – not fairness and justice for all.

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Look at some of the intelligent and well educated people like the attorney general and others who decorate out cabinet; helm the leadership of the various component parties, GLCs, the judiciary and the government as a whole, and one wonders if they do not have issues of conscience.

They seem to be motivated largely by power and its associate benefits, especially money and all the entitlement benefits that go with it like titles, prestige, positions and patronage. If you play the game, then there is so much to gain. Every position, promotion, title is then explained away as a gift from God even at the expense of Truth.

We, ordinary citizens, can all sit in awe and watch the drama unfold. Now we have a situation where those who created the present devils are looking like saints. They have all played the same games. Having said that, one must respect the fact that some of them may now be seeing some light! Is this because the situation has reached a point of serious concern?

We will not progress to achieve ‘developed nation’ status or a progressive democracy as long as we are led by race-based parties. As a dimension of identity, race is a powerful force. But as a cause it will always remain divisive. No nation, as President Obama has stressed, can use race, colour or religion and remain progressive in the 21st Century. The cry is for humanity and inclusiveness.

Why is it that refugees from Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine and Pakistan, to name a few, are all going into Europe? We have to ask ourselves serious questions. While the climate and culture is so different, they seem attracted by the system and institutions in these European nations that offer the possibility of being fairly treated rather than in their own nations or other Muslim nations.

This is where Malaysia has to focus if it is going to be regarded as a progressive, just and fair democracy. Our democracy is, at best, cosmetic; our institutions are frail with a leadership not motivated by great and progressive causes but stunted by ethnic polemics. It is all about what each race can get and not what we can all give to Malaysia as a whole.

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The disillusionment with our educational system best describes where we have landed. Our universities produce students who cannot think and the government encourages this with its punitive laws. The levels of corruption are an indication of how institutions and systems are being eaten away by the sheer greed and lifestyle as exhibited by our present leaders.

Even within the present system you have to abide and agree or you are shunted out. Yesterday’s popular leaders are evicted for asking questions and the herd of unthinking leaders now stand by and echo what the leader who has the means to provide can offer. They give their unflinching loyalty to the new all-powerful leader – small men with no minds of their own.

The hegemony of corruption is powerful. Toe the line or you are banished.

Some of the great issues that need addressing involving the government and the opposition are as follows:

  • Limit the prime ministerial term to two terms at most
  • Give MACC prosecution rights
  • Limit the powers of the attorney general
  • Establish an independent judicial selections committee
  • Ensure Parliament is under the Speaker and not a minister – legislative independence
  • Ensure the independence of the elections commission
  • Establish an interfaith commission

Such independence will ensure that the Executive is held accountable, and that we will not have to face the challenges that we are facing today. This will contribute to a more level playing field.

Najib must go because of the lie, but his going is not going to bring a new dawn unless the above issues are equally addressed.

As Confucius so rightly said, “He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”

What we witness is blind loyalty that neither thinks nor learns and this poses a great danger to our nation as a whole. The tragedy is that those who think, question and challenge the inconsistencies in leadership never thrive, thus creating a vacuum in the quality of those giving leadership.

This must change and we can all play a part.

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