“What a kid I got, I told him about the birds and the bees and he told me about the butcher and my wife.” – Rodney Dangerfield
By S THAYAPARAN
COMMENT | “What do you think of this whole Zairil-Dyana Sofya scandal?” a Malaysiakini subscriber asked in a recent email. To be honest, I am sent so many mails featuring politicians exposing their junk that I have lost track of who is supposedly screwing who.
Let me qualify that. It does not concern me so long as they do not make their private lives part of their agenda or engage in the kind of gutter politics that politicians resort to when demonising their political rivals by using the private lives of their opponents.
Therefore, if these two political operatives have not been “family values” candidates or attacked the private lives of their political opponents, I have no interest in what they allegedly do with each other as long as they are not conspiring to cheat or rob the citizens of Malaysia.
If this is the case, the DAP should just issue a statement saying the private lives of their members are their own and should not bow down to the propaganda meant to destabilise an already fractured alliance.
The big question is, are these two politicians still viable candidates? I think they are. To be fair, I think generally any opposition candidate are a viable candidate in that they offer a faint glimmer of change from the usual way how Umno does things.
For example, to the best of my knowledge, the opposition has not sought to punish voters who did not vote for them by denying them the necessary federal funds to make their lives easier. What an Umno operative like Noh Omar is doing is screwing the average taxpaying citizen and this by far is worse than anything these two DAP operatives have allegedly done.
Threatening the people of Malaysia with violence, like the message Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi delivered about breaking the “social contract” by voting, which is a democratic and constitutional right, is screwing with the public in a way that damages the very foundations of our liberty. This again is worse than anything two people choose to do in their private lives.
Having said that, I do think there are viable MCA, and even though I hate to say this, viable MIC candidates, who are doing the hard work of grassroots-level activism that does not get much attention from the mainstream and alternative press.
The irony, of course, is that state propaganda organs are busy demonising the opposition and the alternative press is busy reporting the stupid things establishment politicians say and do with both ignoring the real issues, those bread-and-butter issues that face the average Malaysian.
If these two are family-values candidates, blathered on about religion, attacked their political opponents’ personal lives or generally made their private lives or that of their opponents a central issue, then if these allegations are true, they should just bow their heads in shame and leave the political arena. They should leave because they have given the opposition another manufactured establishment outrage to deal with.
This country is a state in failing dealing with an existential threat of Islamic extremism. Add to this, corruption on a scale that threatens our economy and the livelihood of millions of Malaysians. We are living in a time of perilous regional geopolitics that threatens the security of the region, not to mention our borders.
We are living at a time when Islam, from a tool to shore up Malay support, has been turned into a weapon to threaten the non-Muslim community and where Islamic terrorists are emboldened to threaten our borders because of perceived weakness in the ruling elite.
With all this going on, I do not really have much time for the sex scandals of two opposition politicians. If anything, the only aspect that bothers me is that if these two political operatives were really having an affair, they should have been discreet and not put themselves in a position where the national discourse is dominated by what happens in their bedroom.
Unlike some people, I have no illusions about politicians, especially Malaysian politicians, who claim to be pious upstanding members of their communities but who have no problems engaging in “immoral activities” away from the prying eyes of Jakim and whatever state-sponsored moral police who try to convince everyone that morality should be the business of the state.
If these two young politicians are removed from the political chess board, it would be a shame. Even if these allegations are true, they have done nothing that old decrepit politicians have done and continue to do on a daily basis.
I think most people understand this. I think this is the case even if a person is a fence-sitter and is weighing which way to vote in the coming elections, and I think most rational Malaysian realise the hypocrisy of politicians going after each other when it comes to these kinds of sex scandals. I think people understand that this is a distraction from the very real economic issues they face in their daily lives.
I do not know about anyone else but this is what I worry about:
1. I am more concerned about how Islamic extremism is nurtured in this country, the most recent example is an extremist preacher given PR status when average hardworking stateless Malaysians are left out in the cold.
2. I am more concerned about how this country is, and perceived as, a global kleptocracy.
3. I am more concerned about how the state security apparatus threatens citizens who merely wish to exercise their democratic rights and coddles the proxies of the ruling regime.
4. I am more concerned about how the state is rightly going after corruption scandals generated by the opposition but remain silent when it comes from the Umno establishment, the biggest of which, has generated legal proceedings all over the world.
5. I am more concerned about the reality of deaths in custody and how our prison system has become a living hell which the establishment seems proud of.
We should not allow ourselves to be distracted from the very real problems that we face as a nation. We should realise that for politicians fidelity to the people they represent is more important than whatever goes in their personal lives.
If these pictures are real and these two young politicians are removed from the political chessboard, then their sin is not the affair but they allowed themselves to be compromised and denied Malaysians political operatives that could bring about change.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.