After his resignation as Malaysia’s eighth prime minister, Mahiaddin Yasin expressed “relief” that the burden of governing a nation, plagued by the Covid epidemic and dwindling economy, had finally been taken off his shoulders.
He expressed his relief in his farewell message to his staff at the Prime Minister’s Office recently before he went to meet the Agong to tender his resignation.
Mahiaddin stepped down soon after 15 Umno lawmakers pulled out their support for his 17-month-old Perikatan Nasional government, causing him to be a head of government whose slim majority had just been shaved off. In short, to resign was the only option left for him.
His short stint enabled him to appreciate that the duties of prime minister are heavy and demanding, particularly when operating amid the pandemic. This is obviously not a job for the less intelligent, incompetent, faint-hearted and parochial-minded.
That said, the Pagoh MP rightly said the post of prime minister, like any other worldly possessions and attainment, is something that you cannot bring along with you after death.
So politicians should exercise self-restraint in their material pursuits, particularly the insatiable crave for political power, if not material wealth as well.
One can only hope that Mahiaddin’s successors and other politicians would heed his wise words, which incidentally lends credence to the proposal for a two-term limit for prime ministers. This fixed-term limit would help hinder the temptation of politicians to overstay their welcome. It would also provide opportunities for young politicians to take over the helm in due time, shouldering the burden of governing with new ideas needed to address new challenges.
And yet, the simple fact of death making worldly gains impermanent seems to have gone over the heads of some politicians, irrespective of their ethnicity, religious conviction, gender and age. Why, there are politicians who would go the extra mile to compete aggressively, secretly plot, backstab friends and snatch power from a legitimate leadership.
Surely, such dark nature of human beings is denounced by the Almighty as it can give rise to not only endless animosity among leaders but also untold miseries for the people they govern arising from political instability and neglect. It is also unjust.
As a professedly God-fearing person, Mahiaddin also understandably expressed concern about doing the right thing that would be endorsed by God during his brief tenure. After all, one is accountable to God for one’s actions.
So, if a democratically elected government was ousted in the middle of its term by a motley group of politicians cobbled together in a pact, could this brazen act be morally supported? And, good heavens, what would the Almighty say?
If a government has a slim majority, it is bound to look over its shoulder most of the time. As a result, attention is diverted away from the urgent need to govern effectively to handle the outbreak and its adverse impact on the economy. Is this neglect ethical?
If public hospitals, which are treating Covid patients, have been overstretched owing to a shortage of funds, equipment and personnel, would this not prick the conscience of whoever is responsible?
In a country ravaged by the virus, it is perhaps useful to heed what Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah of Perak recently said: the governance of this country should be based on the principle of justice and should be entrusted to acknowledged experts.
The former prime minister has heaved a sigh of relief.
In the meantime, ordinary Malaysians wait with bated breath in the hope that the newly installed government would be able to do the right thing to adequately and effectively address the challenges that confront them squarely in the face. – The Malaysian Insight