Another day in paradise


IT’S easy to have thought that the incessant politicking would end after last year’s general election, but instead, the deluge of bad vibes continues, much like a bad TV drama in dire need of an ending.

I don’t know about the rest of my countrymen, but I am exhausted by the relentless political witch-hunting and gaffes of our ministers, resulting from their inexperience, lack of coordination or just plain ignorance.

Then, there is the rewind of some political controversies, which have resumed recently, and it’s apparent that “rewind” has become archaic since the demise of the compact cassette and its player. Well, for those of us old enough to “rewind” and remember, perhaps we can call it the political retro.

So, we are back to dealing with spats with our neighbour and a royal household. By sheer coincidence, they are close to each other – geographically speaking, at least.

As a regular traveller, I am constantly queried about the reason Malaysian authorities take such a long time to trace individuals.

So, we still don’t know where fugitive Jho Low is, although there are murmurings that he has been spotted in China, yet he is able to issue rebuttals against the government, even if via his lawyers.

Then, there is Pastor Raymond Koh and Muslim social activist Amri Che Mat, who both went missing months apart from each other. Now, Malaysia’s human rights commission, Suhakam, believes the two were victims of state-sponsored “enforced disappearances”.

It’s a damming conclusion, or accusation, depending on perspective, but Suhakam has said the two were taken by the Special Branch – the police’s intelligence unit.

Raymond Koh, accused of proselytising to Muslims, disappeared on Feb 13, 2017, in Selangor. Amri, who practises Syiah Islam, which is banned in Sunni-majority Malaysia, disappeared on Nov 24, 2016, in Perlis. The report said that the two men’s religious activities were the cause of their disappearance.

Again, the police have been unable to find them, and neither have they been able to learn more about the people responsible for their disappearance. In the case of Koh, it was literally a daylight kidnapping. Still, no clear clues have surfaced.

And of course, we also can’t locate Pathmanathan Krishnan @ Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, the Muslim convert and former husband of Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi, or their daughter whom he abducted nine years ago. It’s now almost a decade’s agonising wait for the family.

The police have said that efforts to track down Muhammad Riduan have been ongoing since May 20, 2014, when a warrant was issued by the High Court in Ipoh.

Jho Low, who is on the run, most likely has family members including his father, mother and sister with him, but the same can’t be said for the wives of Koh and Amri, as there is no closure for them.

Of course, there is Indira, who last saw her ex-husband and youngest child Prasana Diksa, in 2010, when the girl was 11 months old.

We don’t have to agree with the politics or religious practices of either Koh or Amri, but surely our hearts bleed for what their wives are going through as they struggle with the hope of one day seeing their husbands return, or to accept the possibility that they have become widows.

With Indira, are we going to believe that her child was taken from her and that we can’t locate her ex-husband? Amazingly, he remains missing.

Every politician we know has waxed lyrical about the justice system, so, we’d like to see them walk the talk by exercising the authority bestowed upon them. Or are they, too, telling us that they have more urgent matters on their plate?

And then we come to another point: who needs another state election when we just had a general election barely a year ago?

It’s only right that if a Mentri Besar can’t work with the Sultan or Prime Minister, a replacement must be appointed. In this case, someone who could just get on with the business of the day – running the state.

Suddenly, everyone is a legal expert in the state and federal constitutions. And we know lawyers have differing views and different ways of interpreting the law. That’s why they are in the legal business.

And we still have no idea why the former Johor MB decided to quit. He, too, went missing for awhile, and of course, could not be traced either.

So, while that episode was raging on, we had a national debate on whether the Sultan has absolute power under the state constitution to appoint an MB, or if the ruling party needs to seek the Sultan’s consent, or if the state constitution expressly provides that the Ruler “shall” appoint an MB “who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the state assembly”, or if the PH government has the right to their choice of MB.

However, the point is that politicians come and go, but Rulers remain. And the last thing the country, or state needs, is a constitutional crisis.

Malaysians don’t need this kind of issue brewing when the kitchen is on fire. The economy needs quick fixing, so we need the full attention, and expertise, of our national leaders.

We don’t want them to be sidetracked or the people to be distracted. They should simply carry on with the job they’ve been elected to do.

Malaysian public figures shouldn’t be spending time posting messages on social media, and neither should people be using their working hours to share these messages.

And now that Johor will get a new MB, we can get on with the work at hand.

Wong Chun Wai , On the Beat , Johor MB

Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now editorial and corporate affairs adviser to the group, after having served as group managing director/chief executive officer.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.