Monday, October 24, 2011

Pot calling the kettle black

THE week should rank as one filled with double standards and two wrongs making one right. On the flip side, it can be viewed as the week when what is good for the goose may not be so for the gander.

First there was the case of the opposition accusing the Barisan Nasional and Umno of gutter politics when some pro-Umno bloggers put up postings alleging the son of DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng of being involved in an outrage of modesty case.

Responding to the accusations of gutter politics, BN and Umno leaders pointed out that the opposition should not attempt to take the moral high horse when they themselves were known to have taken a similar route in their political quest.

While the debate simmered, several practical measures could have been taken to ensure such mud slinging is reduced, if not stopped.
Firstly, if the claims in the postings by the bloggers were false, Guan Eng should take the initiative to take legal action, expose them and make sure they pay for such crimes.

It will serve not only the opposition's purpose but that of the BN as well. Such a precedent will ensure that any blogger, from either side of the fence, will be cautious when they want to post something ugly about someone.

By doing that, Guan Eng, instead of engaging in the perennial debate of who is more moral in the nation's political arena, will contribute in drawing the perimeter of what should and shouldn't be allowed in blogosphere.

It is amazing sometimes that politicians will go to great lengths to deny, denounce and chastise what is written against them and yet, are not prepared to lodge police reports and take legal action to put a stop to such defamation and slander.

After all, these politicians, given their wide range of associates and supporters, including many legal practitioners, would surely be able to obtain legal services easily.

Amid the attention given to Guan Eng, of lesser interest but not necessarily of lesser significance, is the purported derogatory tweets by a DAP man.

Leong Yook Kong, political secretary to DAP's Bagan Dalam assemblyman A. Thanasekaran, is being censured when he posted on Twitter: "If they see the snake & Indian man, pukul siapa (hit who) first?"

He had not admitted he had made those remarks but he reportedly questioned why people were making a big deal of what he had tweeted, yet, were less critical when BN's Perak assemblywoman Hamidah Osman made a similar comment (in 2008).

Actually, Hamidah was severely chastised by the opposition, especially by DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang who, in his blog said:

"It is most shocking that after half-a-century of nationhood and the great government's expenditures at nation-building, including the billions of ringgit recently spent on National Service, a Barisan Nasional state legislator in Perak could utter the highly racist, insensitive and offensive statement that when you meet an Indian and a snake, you hit the Indian first!"

Guan Eng joined his father in criticising Hamidah, demanding that Umno should punish her.

Chipping in was DAP Ipoh Barat member of parliament M. Kulasegaran, who then said Hamidah's remarks had aggrieved the Indian community and MIC should pull out from BN.

Hamidah then apologised several times for the racial slur.

While waiting for Leong to apologise or defend his statement, and reactions from DAP stalwarts like Kit Siang, Guan Eng and Kulasegaran, another case of double standards cropped up.

It is on the suspension of International Islamic University of Malaysia's law lecturer Prof Abdul Aziz Bari.

The reasons for his suspension are sketchy but much is attributed to his public comments on the Selangor Sultan's statement about the issue of proselytisation of Muslims in Selangor.

Perceived to be strongly leaning towards the opposition, if not outrightly supporting it, his suspension was greeted with loud protests.

This was met with strong retorts from pro-BN supporters, asking Aziz Bari's supporters where they were when three officials of Universiti Selangor (Unisel) were sacked in August.

The sacking of the trio also led to its vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Rosti Saruwono resigning in protest over the sackings.

The icing on the cake for the week's inconsistencies if not outright hypocrisy would have to be the reasons given by Pas' leadership in deciding not to participate in the Himpunan Sejuta Umat (Himpun -- Gathering of a million believers).

Its president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said Pas decided not to participate in the gathering so as to respect the decision of the organisers to keep the gathering apolitical.

This sparked accusations of Pas being hypocritical because it was more than keen to participate in July's Bersih 2.0 rally that was held to demand for electoral reforms.

Pas' critics pointed out that Bersih organisers, too, claimed that the rally was apolitical.

But the critics may have missed out on what Abdul Hadi was actually trying to reveal -- that Bersih is political, hence Pas' participation.

Come to think of it, there is nothing significant or extraordinary about this week's double standards or political hypocrisy.

The pot is only doing what it has been doing in previous weeks and the in weeks to come -- calling the kettle black.

p/s This article first appeared in the New Sunday Times on 22 Oct, 2011.

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