A minister who failed to exemplify adherence to the law is now failing to heed his own hypocritical advice.
PLANTATION Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali – famous for breaching quarantine rules upon his return from Turkey – recently commented that nightclubs and entertainment centres should be shut down permanently.
He said, “Just have fun at your own houses together with friends and acquaintances. No need for festivals until you get drunk and cause more problems.
“Only some like to do this. A lot of others do not agree with it. Follow the voice of the majority as a democratic voice.”
His comments are oddly applicable perfectly to his own case involving the breach of quarantine.
By right, anyone returning to Malaysia from overseas is supposed to go through a two-week quarantine. Khairuddin ignored this completely, presumably because as a minister, he felt that he was above the law.
In other countries, ministers or high officials who have committed far less serious Covid-19 related infractions have resigned from their posts. That’s how seriously they take it.
Khairuddin, however, has not only ignored his moral obligations; he has also totally ignored the massive groundswell of calls for him to resign as minister.
Of course, not every minister or Malaysian acts this way with regards to flagrantly violating quarantine rules.
Only some like to do it. A lot of others do not agree with it. Khairuddin should follow the voice of the majority as a democratic voice, and resign immediately as minister.
Much to the chagrin of my editors, to whom I owe multiple rounds of beer at this point, I do not myself drink. This is not due to moral reasons; alcohol just gives me a headache, and I have vague recollections of being something of a sad drunk.
I don’t generally frequent pubs or clubs either, despite their many temptations. Again, not for moral reasons; I hate having to shout to be heard, and honestly, who wants to be the uncle at the club. (To paraphrase Chris Rock: There’s always some old guy at the club. He’s not really too old. He’s just too old to be in the club).
All that said, I really don’t appreciate Khairuddin’s remarks.
I think cancel culture is something that needs to be navigated very carefully, and honestly, before this, I’ve not (beyond retweeting a few tweets that were too funny not to retweet) chosen to jump on the bandwagon attacking Khairuddin over the past few weeks.
To double up on animal metaphors, it would have been like flogging a dead seahorse in a barrel.
But his recent statement truly goes too far.
It’s even more odious when you understand the reasoning behind it.
Khairuddin’s back is obviously against the wall. The massive public anger and outrage over his blatant, unrepentant flouting of the law stemmed from how his actions really drove home the point that in Malaysia, there is one law for the rich and powerful, and another law for the rest of us.
In a time when all Malaysians are struggling and making dire changes to their way of life just to try and preserve the health and wellbeing of the community at large, it’s nothing short of disgusting to have someone as high ranking as a minister do the complete opposite.
It’s a real slap in the face.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, instead of taking responsibility for what he has done, this shameless minister is now arrogantly turning to the oldest tricks in the book to try and distract from his odious transgressions by inflaming racial and religious sentiments.
This is truly the worst aspect of Malaysian politics, being played up for the worst possible reasons.
In a way, it is the perfect example of how the old guard is violently tearing up the social fabric of Malaysia, just to save their own political behinds.
I think it’s not unreasonable to assume that had Khairuddin not been taking so much heat over the quarantine issue, he would not have bothered to weigh in on this nightclub issue.
As it is, he was clearly flailing around desperately for any kind of bandwagon to jump on in order to give his fading base any little crumb he could to rally to his support.
It is equally sad to see supporters of Khairuddin and his party bend over backwards trying to find some way to justify his actions.
This is yet another damning indictment of how blind partisanship is making a mockery of our democracy.
Where democracy is supposed to be about public engagement, consensus building, and working together, people like Khairuddin make it little more than an endless mire of us versus them thinking where tribalist mentalities overcome all logic and reason.
Stop disguising feeble attempts to save your own political career by sacrificing the peace and harmony that Malaysians have worked so hard to build.
Stop turning Malaysians against one another, just so you can continue enjoying your minister’s salary.
And most of all, for goodness’ sake, stop trying to justify how you broke the law, just because you think the law does not apply to the rich and powerful.
Just stop it.
NATHANIEL TAN’s alcohol tolerance levels are a little embarrassing.