There seems to be no end to the gripe Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has against Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, the latest being the issue of poverty.
As it is, the Kedah menteri besar has already hogged the limelight with his recent bizarre claim that Penang belongs to Kedah. Most Penang people are obviously not amused by his antics.
We should be mindful that all this is happening prior to the elections in six states of the peninsula, including Kedah, which is why it lends credence to the suspicion that the hullabaloo raised by the Pas election director was politically calculated.
Sanusi reportedly argued that Anwar was not qualified to talk about poverty, let alone initiate steps to eradicate poverty, because the latter did not come from a poor background.
Anwar’s father, he said, was an Umno leader and MP, while the Tambun MP went to a premier residential school, the Malay College Kuala Kangsar, which was founded in 1905 to educate children of Malay elites.
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In contrast, Sanusi came from a hardcore poor family of 13 siblings. His father took up numerous jobs to support the family.
Sanusi then accused Anwar of “using” the poor for political expediency, given the latter’s supposed lack of “poor credentials”.
If we were to take Sanusi’s argument to its logical conclusion, then only the poor would have the capacity and authority to understand better why poverty exists in our society.
Hence, economists and professors, for instance, who are not garbed in tattered clothes would not be able to theorise about poverty, which has afflicted sections of society.
Similarly, cynics would say it would take only the thieves who pulled off the 1MDB heist to explain fully how the grand robbery could have possibly occurred.
Besides, the likes of Sanusi would have been able to reduce, if not eradicate, the poverty that has existed in the Pas-ruled states of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu over the years – not to mention addressing the lingering issue of dirty piped water.
To be sure, the concern and understanding about poverty would stem from empathy, compassion and a sense of social justice of an individual, irrespective of his or her social status. In other words, the poor do not have a monopoly over the appreciation of poverty.
In fact, many among the poor themselves do not have a good grasp of the issue of poverty, which may be caused by various factors such as the exploitation of the working class by the capitalists, discrimination and political chicanery.
That is why it prompted Anwar as a student leader – armed with knowledge, concern and empathy – to stage a demonstration in Baling in 1974 in solidarity with the rural people and farmers who suffered from poverty.
In certain cases, the concern about poverty has become a cottage industry among politicians who profit politically and materially by pretending to champion the cause of the destitute and the dispossessed all this while.
This means that such politicians get rich on the backs of the poor, rendering the latter to a life of forever seeking hope for a better future. It is the worst form of betrayal committed by the politicians concerned.
Sanusi should be careful about what he says in public. Otherwise, he may prove to be ‘exciting material’ for some stand-up comics. – The Malaysian Insight