Friday, February 9, 2018

Najib’s gentleman and civil politics

Salleh Said Keruak

Mahathir, 91, accused Najib of stealing public money and said Malaysia was "controlled by thieves", said the Daily Mail UK on 19th November 2016.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad said, relatively speaking, Malaysia was a peaceful country until a “crook, thief and robber” showed up, reported Malaysiakini on 24th September 2017.

“I never said all Bugis were pirates. I was saying that Najib may have descended from Bugis pirates,” said Mahathir is his blog posting and reported by The Malaysian Insight on 26th October 2017.

These are just three examples in a long list of personal attacks Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been making against Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak over the last three years since 2015. And these personal attacks, insults, slander and vilification are being reported by the media all over the world.

It is normal to have differences of opinion in politics. And it is also normal to openly express these differences. That is the bedrock of democracy and freedom of expression is part and parcel of democracy. But what Mahathir is doing cannot be called democracy or freedom of expression.

Malaysia has laws against criminal defamation. Slandering someone is a crime but Mahathir appears to have no respect or regard for the law. He makes disparaging statements against Najib and accuses Najib of all sorts of things .This is very irresponsible for someone who used to be Malaysia’s Prime Minister and he is setting a bad example for the youth.

What Mahathir is doing goes beyond politics. It even goes beyond basic human decency, while Islam regards slander as a severe crime. Najib, however, has demonstrated a gentleman’s approach to these attacks and has remained civil in spite of these below-the-belt tactics. Malays have what we call adab.We must refrain from bringing the level of politics down to gutter politics where anything goes and slander becomes the new political culture in Malaysia.

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