Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pondering Why Our Politicians Won't Quit

1. I felt that after reading reports about the Singapore Parliament Speaker resigning over infidelity (read here), a senior citizen Lynas activist who was arrested for calling for Adnan Yaakob to resign (read Malaysiakini report here), how most Japanese politicians would resign over admission of improper conduct as well as how our own Home Minister refuses to quit after it is proven to have be in improper conduct over handling his duties, it might worth to comment and make inferences over why most Malaysian politicians simply won't quit if there is sufficient evidence and substantial, corroborated  witness testimony implying of that politician.

2. My reasoning over that subject is mainly due to three main factors. 
a) Fear fall of dignity and capitulation
b) Cut off from lucrative monies
c) Society / people perception over the person

The first two are inter-connected for sure.

3. I had always wanted to answer this question by my own words and view that I often tried asking some of my Malay friends about "dignity", or why people are unwilling to quit. I get a mixed bag of answers usually. But the starting point about the this question would be that we need to go back to the origins of the race (root Austronesian) and the culture that you've to understand that well. If we examine the political scenario of our present running coalition government (BN) over the last 30 years or so, we have noticed that as with the Cold War mentality, they do not take dissidence quite well and  it's worse than it was before the Mahathir years (1981-2003). 

Note: The Tun Razak years (1970-1976) were less severe as it with the Hussein Onn years (notable instances during that time including where "King Ghaz" as Home Minister signing quite a number of detention orders against dissidents)

The book "Mental Revolution" (Revolusi Mental) written by 14 intellectuals within the UMNO organization, in 1971 summarizes that the Malay society is characterized in general as not honest with themselves; blaming others except their own faults; being fatalists, which makes them less keen on making efforts; lack the courage to fight truth. This has been largely resulted from exploitation from other communities and the prolonged effect of the English colonization of Malaya. The characteristics mentioned there also similar to our present trait of some of the politicians, not just BN but some of them within the present federal opposition. (some of the excerpts / descriptions were from the book The Myth of The Lazy Native by the late Syed Hussein AlAtas)

4. I often look at the question above in analogy with the Provisional IRA wing in Ireland in the years prior to the Good Friday agreement in 1998. Like them, many of them believe that should something that goes against their stance, or a setback, (their way of showing their stance is like forcing it on your throat) many think of it as capitulation to the enemy.

In our local context, ask ourselves why the Home Ministry that simply seizes books / magazines that do not conform to their defined way standards (read here) or simply summons editors of newspapers that publishes articles that reveals a chink in their armor. But look at what it has gotten them into in the long run? Complacency.

5. On the individual level, I surmise that it is their fear and paranoia over self-dignity that will be gone, the moment if they caught with their pants down. How can we explain based on the famous unpublished stories that: 

a) A famous politician was caught for proximity in Port Dickson in 2006 with a famous local artiste.
b) A minister famously assaulted a man for his affair with the minister's daughter who was or on the verge of divorce. Police report was made but no action taken.
c) The Jamaluddin Jarjis case in April 2008 at Havana Club, Hotel Meridien? (Read here, Malay version)

6. Yes everyone fears of their dignity stripped completely if caught. But having observed the similar cases of politicians found to be in misconduct in Japan, China and in much more matured thinking nations, there is no need to fear, for every person still has a small ounce of dignity having hitting the rock bottom moment. When reaching that moment, there is an ample time for a person to step away and the plenty of opportunities to rebuild his image, but outside of the circle of influence they used to be.

7. Haven't we noticed that in most religion books that humans are taught of mercy, compassion, love thyself and thy neighbor? Indirectly it also means that every human being should at least have a small ounce of dignity in themselves no matter what really happened to them, good or bad.

8. In related to the first factor, the money factor also plays part of it. Being a politician, a Parliamentarian earns around RM 10K per month (including extra benefits). It goes higher if you are a minister and so forth. If you are also part of the board of directors in a company, you earn more. On rock bottom moment, you lose everything, for you are pushed to resign. From that on, it's back to square one, but the problem would be where to start over again and doing outside your usual circle.

This is arguably the two main reason on the individual level why our politicians are unlikely to quit, except if going for retirement of course.

9. The last factor is also attributed to our current society structure. I once recalled what Raja Petra said about the Malays usually indulge with gossip more than their non-Malay counterparts whereas non-Malays can take insults on religion or others in a pinch of salt. How can we explain why when Chua Soi Lek resigned as the minister or when he came back as the MCA president in the party elections that the number of Malaysians would question that matter is less? On the contrary, when any thing comes to Malay politicans e.g like Anwar alleged to have commit infidelity, Mat Sabu talks about Mat Indera, Nazri's son in misconduct this and there, people from both sides start hitting that person as if flogging a dead horse. Although I hate to delve into this point, but it is necessary to say that this external factor also plays part on the problem above.

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