During the Coronavirus pandemic, the majority of the rakyat has, by and large, adhered to the rules, but Malaysian politicians who openly defy the strict conditions, just show that they consider themselves above the law and that the law only applies to ordinary citizens.
When politicians misbehave, the nation loses all trust and respect for them. Don’t politicians know that they should set a good example to others? Breaking the law has only increased the people’s ire and disgust of them.
In a live telecast on 18 March, Muhyiddin Yassin pleaded with Malaysians to observe the Movement Control Order (MCO) and desist from holding gatherings, going on holiday, or “balik kampung”.
He said, “…Just stay at home and protect yourself and your family.”
His plea had been made, when it was reported that despite the MCO, bus stations were busy, with people rushing to their hometowns, and the police had reported that highways to the north, south and east were congested.
Muhyiddin said that the lockdown would contain the spread of Coronavirus infections, and help to control the number of people, who could contract the virus. He said that Coronavirus had an incubation period of 14 days, and that the symptoms may not show up for two weeks.
So why did the politicians who broke the MCO, disregard this important message which was to keep the people safe, and stop an escalation of infection?
Many Malaysians have long realised that the laws only apply to them and that many politicians break the rules. They have little faith in the system, and as one social observer said, “There are two sets of laws. One for the politicians, and another for the ordinary people. A person who steals milk powder to feed his starving baby, is jailed and fined. A politician who steals millions of the taxpayers’ money, is allowed to escape scot-free. Where is the justice?”
On 22 April, senior minister, Ismail Sabri, said that 17,735 individuals had been arrested for violating the MCO. This is only 0.06 percent of the population of 31,000,000 and shows that the majority of Malaysians are observing the MCO.
In contrast, a number of politicians from the ruling coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN) have openly flouted the MCO. They include the menteri besar of Terengganu, Ahmad Samsuri, Wan Ahmad Fayhsal, the Deputy Health Minister, Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, the Perak executive councillor, Razman Zakaria, and the Youth and Sports deputy minister. A minister invited people to record a TikTok video in her office, and the daughter of the Umno-Baru president visited politicians, in Putrajaya.
Why are politicians and politically connected people, allowed to visit one another? Wouldn’t a telephone call do? What message does it send to the public?
What does it say, when a single mother was given a 30-day jail term for violating the MCO, but the Terengganu MB, Ahmad Samsuri, will not be charged for the same offence. Photographs of Ahmad dining with the former Terengganu MB, Ahmad Said have been circulated on social media. The former MB will not be charged. The attorney-General’s chambers (AGC) has classified Ahmad Samsuri’s case as “No Further Action” (NFA).
No-one is making excuses for the single mother, but did the magistrate consider the trauma that will be inflicted on the six-year-old son of the single-mother? Who will take care of him during his mother’s imprisonment? Why was she not given the same sentence as the MB? Justice should be seen to be dispassionate and impartial.
When photographs of the Deputy Health Minister, Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, and the Perak Exco, Razman Zakaria, having a meal with eighteen other people in a tahfiz school in Lenggong, were uploaded onto Facebook, there was a public uproar. There was no social distancing and the gathering was not essential under the terms of the MCO. The two were investigated and finally charged at a court in Grik, for violating the MCO. They were fined RM1,000.
Many questions remain.
Would these two and the others who were seen in the photographs, have been investigated if not for the rakyat’s condemnation?
Few people are satisfied with the sentence, especially as these men should have led by example. They probably only apologised because their boss had seen how their behaviour had angered the rakyat. In most other countries, whose who held senior positions in government and committed serious breaches of the law, have resigned because they brought shame to their departments and their leaders.
Elderly people who walked to buy food for their families, were thrown into prison for breaking the MCO. A single mother was jailed, but two others who were present in court on the same charges, were only fined. The sentencing seems very haphazard. Was each individual’s circumstances considered?
It appears that in Muhyiddin’s administration, double standards and different punishments for the public and government officials are here to stay. Jail is reserved for members of the rakyat, when by right, the government official, should have been more severely punished.
As for the RM1,000 fine, one is reminded by the words of a former Umno-Baru minister, who said, RM2 million is like loose change for him.
If Muhyiddin wants to make a difference, the hypocrisy and double standards must cease.