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It’s Malaysian politics, stupid

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It would seem that Malaysian politicians have a penchant for raising eyebrows, to the point of making themselves look absurd, to say the least.

The recent rowdy exchange between Housing and Local Government Minister Nga Kor Ming and Umno Youth chief Muhamad Akmal Saleh was one of those times.

Akmal, the medical doctor who found fame in socks that bore the sacred word Allah, descended into name-calling during the altercation. He said Nga, like certain other “stupid” ministers in the government, were the cause for the national economy to perform badly.

This was in response to Nga’s observation that the prolonged boycott of the KK Super Mart convenience store chain mounted by Akmal had adversely affected the national economy, as well as the chain’s employees.

Name-calling usually doesn’t help to enlighten people in a discourse. That is also unfortunately practised by certain politicians in parliamentary and state assembly proceedings.

It also doesn’t help to calm the frayed nerves of the cabinet ministers who were slammed, nor does it add any value.

If anything, name-calling tends to short-circuit civilised and necessary conversations.

Besides, there isn’t really a need for Akmal to assign a “stupid” label on certain politicians because Malaysians largely are able to judge for themselves their self-professed political representatives.

The politicians’ callous and shallow speeches as well as public misdemeanours would have us believe that they suffer from an acute lack of grey matter.

But what is worrying is that it is not only the intellectually challenged that often imagine us ordinary Malaysians to be so dumb as to be easily duped. Some of the quick-witted, too, have similar attitudes.

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This may involve shenanigans of sorts regarding national development that results in, say, unchecked deforestation and environmental degradation, and certain undemocratic laws that may not be repealed owing to lame excuses. 

What US president Abraham Lincoln said in 1887 still rings true to this day: “You can fool all of the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

Of course, this is not to deny the existence of certain cohorts in our society that are ready to fall for what their ambitious elected leaders have to say hook, line and sinker.

These are blind followers who would walk the extra mile for those they consider leaders, irrespective of the latter’s hidden agenda.

Given such a scenario, it is a huge waste of public funds (not to mention oxygen) to sustain politicians who do not contribute meaningfully and intelligently in state assemblies and Parliament. 

In the age of social media, one gets to view video clips that make comparisons between, for instance, Malaysian and Singaporean parliamentarians in terms of quality of debate. The stark contrast can be unnerving. 

Indeed, Malaysians need politicians who are farsighted in their policies and actions for the sake of multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural Malaysia. Not those who are easily excitable when it comes to the toxic politics of race and religion, which is counterproductive to national cohesion and progress.

We can no longer afford to be left behind by our neighbours in terms of socioeconomic, cultural, and scientific and technological progress. 

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It would be stupid of us to let politicians be the main impediment to national development and dynamism. – The Malaysian Insight

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Mustafa K Anuar
Dr Mustafa K Anuar, a longtime executive committee member and former honorary secretary of Aliran, is, co-editor of our newsletter. He obtained his PhD from City, University of London and is particularly interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues. These days, he is a a senior journalist with an online media portal
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