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When our moral compass goes wonky

Why do some people who still revere the corrupt and those who harm the wellbeing of the nation?

Prisoner Najib Razak

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As we know, former Prime Minister Najib Razak has withdrawn his application for a RM100m property from the Prime Minister’s Department.

This comes after social media users expressed aghast, anger and disappointment over his antics, given his financial impropriety in the recent past that has caused a huge loss of money to the nation.

An online petition had demanded that Najib – who has been convicted of seven counts of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving RM42m in funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd – withdraw his application.

Najib’s change of mind was also triggered by concern that his property proposition could adversely affect Barisan Nasional’s prospects in the Malacca election – his decision arguably attributed to people’s power by some observers.

Although people are aware that Najib, as a former Prime Minister, was entitled to apply for the property under Section 21 of the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act 1980, they feel it is improper to ‘reward’ a politician convicted of corruption.

Instead, the cabinet should be focused on addressing more pressing issues, such as the housing needs of the vulnerable and the plight of contract doctors.

While Malaysians were bothered by the Pekan MP’s request, self-appointed moral guardians, particularly in the Muslim community, did not seem troubled that the federal government was inclined to consider the request.

This supposedly morally upright group is swift to execute moral policing on gambling and liquor sales, for example, to the extent it transgresses the social terrain normally occupied by non-Muslims.

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Yet, they do not fly off the handle when, for example, political leaders find it fitting to acquire expensive official vehicles using taxpayers’ money in the face of people’s economic hardship following the economic crunch brought about by the pandemic. The vulgar contradiction is lost on them.

They would rather be preoccupied with, say, the length (or shortness) of a skirt than the widening social cleavage between the rich and poor. Social injustice is not what they are looking for.

Corruption that has, unfortunately, become part of our political culture over the years has not weighed down on the conscience of people who profess to be concerned about morality, even though corruption can inflict immense damage on society.

Did they, for example, volunteer to join civil society initiatives such as Rasuah Busters (Corruption Busters) in a big way? On the contrary, ‘moral guardians’ have the audacity to consider corruption – a social scourge – as being less problematic, if not kosher.

Our wonky moral compass needs readjustment if the nation is to move forward.

Justice is an important principle in our collective life, as well as Islam. Yet, there is not much concern, if any, from people who are supposedly sensitive to moral behaviour over the contention that Budget 2022 is not fair towards communities of faiths other than Islam, and towards the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

Similarly, it should be difficult to wrap your head around the fact that there are people who still revere the corrupt and individuals who do harm to the wellbeing of the nation. – The Malaysian Insight

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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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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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Phua Kai Lit
Phua Kai Lit
27 Nov 2021 8.34am

Some people perceive one right-wing political party to be a promoter of religion and another right-wing political party as the “protector of the Malays”.

Twin dilemmas for progressive intellectuals: how to convince the first group about the dangers of clerico-fascism, and how to persuade some that a society built on social justice and the building of a Welfare State would benefit ALL Malaysians ?

Khoo Soo Hay
Khoo Soo Hay
27 Nov 2021 6.45am

Why is the convicted guy still walking around the country free?? What more is permitted to travel overseas??

Hakimi Abdul Jabar
27 Nov 2021 2.48am

Aliran as a responsible NGO & CSO can get the administrative politician & legislator concerned in the news reported below to assist in Anti-Kleptocracy & Anti-Corruption & Anti-Abuses of Power initiatives to ensure the success of public-private partnership’s drive for greater good governance.


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