The opposition is criticising Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim for attending a buka puasa with Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak. Some are even saying that Khalid is laying the groundwork to join Umno, which prompted the Prime Minister to deny it.
Back in 2006, ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad visited Kelantan to give a talk and that night they hosted him to a dinner. Menteri Besar Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat was not invited to that dinner.
When the media asked Nik Aziz whether he would be attending Dr Mahathir’s dinner, he replied that he had not been invited but if they do invite him he would most certainly attend.
The organisers did not take the hint and did not invite Nik Aziz. To everyone’s surprise, however, Nik Aziz unexpectedly walked in as an ‘uninvited guest’ and sat beside Dr Mahathir at the main table.
Nik Aziz felt that since Dr Mahathir was once Malaysia’s Prime Minister and since he is the Menteri Besar of Kelantan, the proper thing would be for him to show Dr Mahathir some respect and attend the dinner, especially since Dr Mahathir was the guest of honour.
That is the type of political maturity that Nik Aziz demonstrated and we would not expect anything less from Khalid. Yet the opposition plays up this issue and uses it against Khalid. Do they expect Khalid to boycott the function just because he and Najib are from opposing political parties?
What about when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim attended Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s Hari Raya open house in Kepala Batas back in 2004 together with the Sarawak Chief Minister. The pictures in the Internet showed them laughing and joking like good friends.
Then we had Anwar and Najib having tea in Parliament and the pictures showed them in a most jovial mood. This is how we would expect our political leaders to act notwithstanding they may be political rivals.
It is time we ended this politics of hate and adopt a more mature attitude. Malaysian politics is too much hate-driven and the opposition is guilty of this as well, although those in the ruling party are not any less guilty. Why must everything be taken as animosity? Malaysians were not always like this in the past but it seems to have become worse of late.
During the Conference of Rulers, the Prime Minister, Governors, Menteris Besar and Chief Ministers all attend. There is no issue about who is from the ruling party and who is from the opposition. If that is an issue why don’t the opposition Menteris Besar then boycott the Conference of Rulers since the Prime Minister and ruling party Menteris Besar and Chief Ministers are also attending?
We need to know proper protocol and understand that there are times when protocol needs to override politics. Not everything can be seen just from the lenses of politics.
For example, take the issue of Dr Mahathir criticising Najib openly and publicly, the latest being the issue of the TPPA. Dr Mahathir said only a weak leader would agree to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
No doubt the TPPA, which involves eleven Asian and Pacific-rim countries, including the United States, needs to be seriously considered because even Australia and New Zealand are not happy with it.
However, the issue here is the United States is forcing its will on ten other countries. So the problem is the United States. Malaysia cannot single-handedly go into conflict with the United States. Malaysia needs to unite with the nine other countries to get a better deal from the United States.
It would be better if such matters are discussed behind closed doors rather than public statements issued criticising the Prime Minister because matters such as the TPPA is more than just about politics. It is about the economy of the country against the backdrop of a super-power. And such matters need proper protocol in the way they are handled.