Deputy prime minister in Lalaland?

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Ahmad Zahid Hamidi - Photograph: Wikipedia

Many are wondering whether Ahmad Zahid understands the meaning and implications of real patriotism, observes Rakyat Jelata.

In a news report by ntv7 on 30 August 2015, Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi appeared to dismiss reports of former PM Mahathir Mohamad’s brief walkabout among Bersih 4 supporters.

Ahmad Zahid seemed to refuse to give much credence to the idea of Mahathir “joining” a Bersih rally. Despite the deputy premier’s incredulity at these reports, credible media proof of Mahathir and his wife Dr Siti Hasmah’s presence among the milling yellow-clad crowd was widely spread on social media in photos and videos of the couple meeting the people. Siti Hasmah was even quoted as saying, “This is people power.”

Whether Mahathir had gone to participate or merely visit the gargantuan protest rally calling for clean, fair and free elections, among other demands, is certainly academic. But his presence, even if he had his own motives, encouraged rally participants. It was perhaps one of the most radical apparent about-turns for someone who had in the past been dead against freedom of speech and dissent, especially by the opposition.

Current public statements by Umno bigwigs, debates and discussions among Umno members and the general public seem to point to Mahathir jumping on the Bersih bandwagon for whatever motives of his own.

Coming back to Ahmad Zahid’s incredulity at such an idea, his remarks gave the impression that either the deputy prime minister was unaware of all that was happening on the ground at home – or he was so shocked by it that his mind failed to comprehend the full implications of Mahathir’s bold disagreement over the current financial scandal involving Najib’s government.

Ahmad Zahid tried to wriggle out of his earlier incredulity the day after Merdeka Day. He declared that Malaysians had to unite against neo-colonisation of the Rakyat’s mind. “Only patriotism among Malaysians, all races and religions, I believe can overcome this,” he said (The Sun Daily, 1 September 2015).

Many may wonder what Ahmad Zahid means and if he understands the meaning and implications of patriotism. In bashing Bersih leaders for publicly expressing dissatisfaction with the current financial shenanigans within the government and with the general mismanagement of the economy and social wellbeing, the deputy prime minister appears to be giving tacit approval to the ongoing corruption and the present neglect of the economy – which has resulted in the lower-middle and low-income rakyat suffering the most.

No reference has been made to any effort to crack down on incendiary racial comment or incitement by certain so-called NGOs friendly to the ruling party for their past as well as current reactionary activities. Instead, what is glaringly obvious to many of the rakyat is the nurturing of groups like Pekida, Perkasa and Isma by the ruling regime.

So what exactly does Ahmad Zahid mean by patriotism? Who are the true patriots of Malaysia? Certainly not those who have in the past exploited this country for their personal benefit, victimised whistle-blowers and dissenters, suppressed our constitutional and human rights of peaceful assembly and free expression, and silenced our press.

Neither are they those who have instigated racial and religious hatred and communal division among Malaysian ethnic communities, allowed religious insult against non-Muslims, attempted forced conversion of non-Muslims, discriminated against women and the transgender community, nurtured and incited xenophobia against migrants and refugees,

They are not those who have violated the peoples’ human rights and fundamental freedoms, besides facilitating the outflow of the nation’s wealth and further incurring a huge debt, which the Rakyat are expected to repay out of their hard-earned income (via higher taxes, tariffs and fees).

If this is what the ruling party supports – and is seen as supporting by the international community – Malaysia
has indeed been brought low by the current Najib Razak regime with the help of ministers like Ahmad Zahid and their team of cronies, sycophants, minions and ‘yes’ men.

Ruling party leaders and members are advised to have a reality check to be clear about where they currently stand with a growing number of the Rakyat – or await the Rakyat’s verdict.

Rakyat Jelata is the pseudonym of an occasional contributor to our Thinking Allowed Online section.

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