On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Let us lead by example

Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin

WE need to have some sense of decency in Malaysian politics. It has reached a point where profanity, rants and shocking wishes have become almost a daily norm, especially on social media. For sure, it is a reflection of our messed-up psyche.

It is perfectly normal in a democracy or dictatorial society to hate our politicians even though they may think they are much loved, thanks to their hangers-on who will tell them just that.

The large crowds that greet our leaders at each event can sometimes lead to a delusion of grandeur. Yet no political hanger-on would want to tell his puffed-up leader that the numbers may not be a genuine reflection of strength or popularity.

Pouring scorn on democratically elected politicians is one thing, but we have certainly gone past the point of decency when some of us can even “rejoice” over tragic personal events that involve them.

For example, take those who made insensitive remarks on the tragic death of the son-in-law of Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi or those who wish for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to be the victim of a helicopter crash.

What’s wrong with these people? Have some of us become so shamefully insensitive or inhumane that we rub our hands in delight when such tragedies take place?

Politicians are players and they know the game can be rough and even unforgiving but any properly brought-up person, regardless of his race or religion, would never wish for misfortune to befall another person.

In the case of the late son-in-law of the Deputy Prime Minister, who passed away during dental surgery, he was not even a politician.

It is incredible that some can be emotionally charged, or more precisely mentally deranged, that they continue to justify and defend their uncouth and stone-hearted wishes even after being condemned for their remarks.

These recalcitrants simply cannot see their wrongs and arrogantly continue to gloat maliciously with more hurtful words. They need psychiatric help, really.

There’s a German word for people with such a disorder and it is called schadenfreude. The word describes people who derive pleasure from the misfortunes of others. Essentially, clinical studies have shown that such diabolical people often have low self-esteem, among others.

It also doesn’t help that in Malaysia, the rebuttals against such people are badly articulated. Given our inability to debate intelligently, race and religion always creep into the argument from both sides. Yes, argument, not discourse because civil debate is not a norm here. Certainly, two wrongs do not make a right.

Last week, Perak Amanah deputy chairman Datuk Seri Mohamed Nizar Jamaluddin did the right thing when he apologised to the family of the late Kuala Kangsar incumbent for reportedly stating that the by-election was “divine retribution” for Barisan Nasional’s hand in overthrowing the Perak government in 2009.

“In the spirit of Ramadan Al-Mubarak, I who am also a father and husband offer my hand and humble unreserved apology to the wife, children and family members of the deceased (Kuala Kangsar MP Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad) as well as to the divisions, state and central party leaderships.

“My unreserved apology is a token of my sincere and deepest sympathy for what God had decreed to befall his family,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

But Nizar should have just come clean. There was absolutely no need for him to claim that his statement was taken outside the context of his speech by “inaccurate or misreporting on social and print media until causing hurt, insult or any feelings of unease to all concerned”.

Blaming the press is always the easiest way out for cowardly politicians. Nizar should have taken it like a man and admitted that it was the result of his loose mouth.

Prior to that, Umno Youth member Syed Rosli Jamalullail also found himself in a bad light when he used profanity to express dissatisfaction with the party leadership’s decision to nominate Wan Mohammad Khair-il’s widow, Datin Mastura Mohd Yazid, to contest the Kuala Kangsar seat.

In 2013, Wan Mohammad Khair-il was elected by a majority of 1,082 votes against a PAS and an independent candidate.

Syed Rosli found himself under heavy criticism for his obscene words against Mastura because the latter is a woman and an elderly person. His choice of words was certainly unacceptable in our Malaysian culture.

He, too, later apologised and admitted his mistake, claiming he did so in a fit of anger and disappointment over Umno’s choice. But the apology sounded hollow as it was said in a defiant tone.

But who can blame the party members if they are simply following in the footsteps of their leaders, especially the lower – and middle – ranking ones who make the uttering of profanity their standard campaign style?

The worst must be DAP’s Hiew Kuan Yao, who has earned a reputation for the shameful use of profanity at his ceramahs. He is a national disgrace to Malaysian politics.

Those who understand Chinese should just do a quick Google search to see the kind of crude and lewd words he uses, which are totally unacceptable.

He is no different from the bottom pile of a few Umno activists who see themselves as communal champions with their racist remarks.

We don’t have to be religious or pretend to look pious to know that it is not right to hurt others or wish misfortune on them, no matter how much we dislike a person or his political beliefs. That’s immature politics.