I had a topic all laid out for this week’s article. I was going to give a dire warning full of snide asides about the danger of becoming so enamoured with the new Government that we slip back into the grovelling feudalistic people that we have such a tendency to be.
This is evidenced by the unbelievably sycophantic proposal to campaign for a Nobel Peace Prize for the new old Prime Minister.
Man, I could have written half an article just on that bit of silliness alone.
But as always in Malaysian politics, things change in a heartbeat.
Before I could say “Stop all this nonsense about buying Mat Sabu a new car”, bang, the Attorney General (AG) issue blew up.
Now, far smarter people have said their piece on this issue and so it would be a folly for me to add my rather inferior two cents’ worth.
So to quickly summarise: Tommy Thomas is the person that the Government would like to appoint as the new AG.
His name is Tommy Thomas and not Tommy bin Thomas, so he is not Malay. Neither is he Muslim.
The King was reluctant to appoint him. And some say the AG must be Malay Muslim.
The law is quite clear on this.
There is nothing in the Constitution that says the AG must be of any particular race or religion.
The King’s power to appoint the AG is under advisement from the Executive, which means that with all due respect he has no discretion in this matter and he must follow the advice of the Cabinet.
And now we hear that His Majesty has done just that.
So, why do I go on about this? What’s the big deal? The big deal is that the arguments used against Thomas have been primarily along racial and religious lines.
It is a timely reminder that even though we have a new Government, the same voices that harp on race and religion are still there and they will keep doing so.
This is not going to change for some time.
So what then can the new Government do? Some people have suggested that the Government pander to these types for the sake of maintaining the peace and not giving these people the fuel for their racist and supremacist views. I disagree.
I think the new Government must display fortitude and will, and stick to their guns.
It should continue to appoint the people that it wants based purely on merit and the belief that those chosen are the best ones to do the job.
Anyway, as I was saying, it is important for the Government to choose the right person for the job, and not place ethnicity or faith into the equation (except where expressly required by the Constitution).
And it is important for these people to take the trust placed in them seriously and for them to do a good job.
Racial and religious sentiments are the tools of those bereft of ideas.
If the Government can show that the country is progressing economically, that it punishes the criminals and makes life better for everyone, then no matter how loud some may screech, most Malaysians, whom I believe are able to discern what is important and what is not, will not pay these screechers any heed.
With the strength of conviction, honesty and integrity, make the country better with good choices.
Do this and the racists will lose their audience.
- Azmi Sharom (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.