Making an unworthy sacrifice

Musings by Marina Mahathir (The Star)

Money politics is an open secret, in fact, not a secret at all. What’s worse, many are not interested in even hiding the fact of vote-buying. Sadly, the younger generation is into it as well.

I WAS out to dinner with a friend last week during the Umno general assembly and naturally was waiting to hear the election results. To my surprise, my friend’s colleague, who could never qualify to be an Umno member because of his race, asked me how it was going.

This proved to me that the elections last week were of interest to more than just Umno members. Who was elected to hold posts was important not just to Umno members but also to the rest of Malaysia.

If only Umno members realised that, perhaps they might have behaved better.

There can be no doubt that some of those who won posts smell bad.

Indeed nobody needs to be making allegations for the simple reason that the perpetrators of corruption, and those who sold themselves, were not interested in even hiding the fact.

Some were even found guilty of using financial inducements to get votes and yet they were still allowed to contest.

Others managed to get away with it, at least from those who would waggle a finger at them. But for those on the receiving end of the largesse, this was simply par for the course.

How else do you explain the delegates who had the temerity to say that the euphemism “money politics” should not be eradicated? After all, it was just payment for their “sacrifices”. Never mind that the compensation for their alleged “sacrifice” was more than they could hope to make in a year.

These are the very same people who can demand that their religion be defended at all costs but forget that hypocrisy is the worst betrayal of that same religion. These were people who cheer in agreement when their leaders exhort them to abandon such wanton corruption only to then smugly demand payment from those who need their votes.

To say that this behaviour is an open secret is to deny a fact: it is not a secret at all but has become the norm. People are quite willing to sell their very souls for money, not least because there are just as many people willing to buy from them.

Does anyone care that the rest of the country is watching all this? Not in the least, because they got the positions they wanted. Do they even consider how they have sold out not just themselves but that party they so depend on to survive? Probably not even for a nanosecond.

Those of us who criticise are in turn condemned for being too comfortable to understand what it means to be faced with these rich opportunities. Where else, they say, are we going to get this chance to make this sort of money?

Yet these are the very same people who believe themselves to be pious because they make their wives cover their heads and they intend to use some of their ill-gotten gains to perform their pilgrimage.

Halal and haram are only for food, apparently not for dubious ways of earning money.

To say that it is only the older ones who are doing this while the young remain untainted is incorrect.

It is the younger generation who has been the worst perpetrators, stroking their already paunchy bellies in glee at the rewards coming their way. The rewards of the afterlife are for others; let them enjoy their fancy new cars, watches and wives now.

I shudder to think of a future generation that thinks that such impunity is the norm. A generation that believes that the only way to get ahead is not through hard labour but through ensuring that they say what the person who pays them most wants them to say.

Happily they slapped each other on their backs at their own good fortune for having hooked onto the person most able to reward their greed.

Do we really need proof of all this? All we need to do is to look at who won and review their credentials.

Do they have any substance at all? Few do.

Have they shown any leadership skills? No.

Yet they got elected. What more can it mean than that their electability factor must have been very discreet?

Of course, there are some who seem to have leadership skills. Who can talk and even make a show of being humble, who is now cast as the underdog that won.

But then Hitler had leadership skills too.