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The difference between prisoner of conscience and convict

Najib would arrive in court in an SUV, looking dapper in his suits - THE STAR

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Some views expressed in recent times in the political arena have forced Malaysians to stretch their imaginations to illogical conclusions.

Far-fetched as some of those opinions might be, none could match the one that puts convicted Najib Razak on the same pedestal as the anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela. The comparison sentiment made by Najib’s son Mohd Nizar takes the cake.

That is why many concerned Malaysians, being aware of the vast difference between the two personalities, took to news portals and social media to express their horror and disgust.

It is undeniable that both Mandela and Najib were sent to prison, but the similarity ends there. To claim otherwise is to bring shame and embarrassment to Malaysia.

Mandela, who was a prisoner of conscience on Robben Island and served 27 years in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Vester Prison in South Africa, vehemently opposed the oppression unleashed by the racist apartheid regime because it was unjust and immoral, especially to the black community.

He sacrificed a big chunk of his life behind bars so that he could stay true to his principles, one of which is to struggle in the interest of his people.

Mandela gained much respect not only in his country but worldwide for his deep and unwavering convictions. He was an undisputed icon for justice and liberation.

In contrast, Najib is a prisoner because he was found guilty of abusing his high position in government to steal money from the public purse.

Malaysians, particularly the poor and the needy, were the sacrifice in his case when money that was meant to fund developments to improve their living conditions was siphoned off.

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Incidentally, part of the country’s coffers comes from taxes obtained from people who duly pay their dues. Most of them do not owe the Internal Revenue Board any amount, unlike some other people in high places.

There is no honour in depriving people of public funds – meant for new hospitals, schools, bridges and national defence – that would benefit the rakyat and the nation.

There is also no honour in betraying the trust given by ordinary Malaysians to manage the economy in the most prudent manner possible. Spending their money to satisfy one person’s desires is surely unconscionable.

It is painful enough for ordinary Malaysians to know that the taxpayers’ money had gone to waste, apart from them having to shoulder the national debt consequently. So, there isn’t a need to subject them to more agony by propping up Najib as a knight in shining armour, with a rallying cry of “cash is king” to boot.

Unlike Mandela, Najib was also known to have suppressed dissent and freedom of expression when he was in power. For instance, he did not even take kindly to an act of merely throwing a few balloons inscribed with words such as “democracy” and “justice” at him and his wife Rosmah Mansor in a public place.

If there is still a stubborn insistence that Najib be likened to Mandela, then shouldn’t we as well do ‘justice’ to the likes of Ronald Briggs, who masterminded Britain’s great train robbery in 1963, by conferring them the same ‘honour’?

Equating the two personalities in question is indeed bizarre. Shame may well serve as a redeeming factor here. – 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.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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