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Why rule of law and propriety are good for Umno, too

Photograph: The Star

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After decades of misrule and a mockery of democracy, there are best practices that need to be put in place for posterity, says Mustafa K Anuar.

Of late, Umno bigwigs and their supporters have been calling for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to respect the rule of law.

Such is the situation since the downfall of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government in the recent general election, and especially the start of the recent high-profile court case involving its disgraced former leader Najib Razak.

They reminded Malaysians of the importance of treating Najib with fairness and decency as any person of that stature should be treated.

Such a call sounds shrill coming from a group of politicians whose actions in the previous government show sheer contempt of rule of law and human rights. They wouldn’t blink an eye when your human rights were being transgressed.

Why, wasn’t it under the watch of BN that several critics of the Najib government were hauled up or harassed for merely exercising their right to express – via the platforms of social media and news portals – their concerns and ideas that happened to be not in line with those of the administration?

Remember the classic case involving a young woman who was dragged to court for merely releasing a few yellow balloons that expressed words such as justice and freedom in the presence of Najib?

Wasn’t it during the Najib administration that the Electoral Commission changed the rules of the electoral game overnight? The image of Dr Mahathir Mohamad was barred from being used in PH election banners and billboards so much so several government workers were seen cutting his image out of billboards.

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And let’s not forget how, for example, PKR lawmaker Rafizi Ramli was treated when he was arrested under the Official Secrets Act. He was seen garbed in the orange lock-up suit and – low and behold – handcuffed.

To be sure, these are some of the unpleasant things committed by those BN politicians who now sing praises of rule of law and human rights.

But that surely doesn’t mean that one should call for similar treatment to be meted out against Najib and his cohorts now that PH – some of whom were victims of BN’s human rights violation – has come to power – for, to do so would mean descending to their gutter level. Besides, two wrongs don’t make a right.

For those baying for blood, propriety is very much needed here – no matter how much the accused is despised.

The call recently made by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail – whose husband was subjected to unjust treatment under the previous administration – came at the right time and the right place. She asked for the authorities concerned to treat Najib with respect and dignity.

Rafizi too prayed for justice for Najib and family. “I am one of those who criticised him a lot. But I pray he would be treated well as a former prime minister, with dignity and honour,” he was quoted as saying.

Such magnanimity is essential in this critical moment of our history. This should be the path to take for those who seek real change in the way we approach the rule of law, human rights and justice.

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After decades of misrule and a mockery of democracy, there are best practices that need to be put in place for posterity. The new normal is for everyone to be treated with fairness, justice and propriety.

Source: The Malaysian Insight

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