Demonstrations: A fundamental right of citizens

By Tunku Aziz (The Malaysian Insider)

AUG 6 — It would be an untruth if I said I was ever a fan of Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Be that as it may, I am sorry about his coming into office, unlike all his predecessors, weighed down by the heaviest baggage imaginable, stuffed up to the neck with allegations of impropriety that I’d rather not bore you with. 

I will not enumerate them either as they are too many. Also it would be pointless to waste our time dwelling upon unproven allegations that should have been nipped in the bud before they got out of hand, but for some unexplained reason, Najib had allowed them to fester like tropical sores on his credibility and honour.

I, like many other Malaysians, want very much to keep an open mind. We earnestly hope that he will give serious consideration to confronting, in a court of law, those who have defamed and reviled him.

His studied indifference might be considered by some to be an appropriate response, but he is not helping his own cause. He is pandering to the insatiable appetite of the noisy rumour mongering, chattering classes.

People are not giving Najib the benefit of the doubt that he craves for. His moral legitimacy to govern is being seriously challenged because of his cavalier attitude to these extremely damning allegations.

I am not about to dispute his legitimacy to govern based on the mandate given to the Barisan Nasional by the people as part of the electoral process, but that, without an underpinning of high ethical standards of behaviour, renders a leader morally deficient.

Conventional wisdom has it that in the sticky situation he has found himself, the only recourse is for Najib to take those who have maligned him to court and clear his name, once and for all. People are asking “Why is he fighting shy of seeking justice in a court of law unless he has something to hide?” They have a point there.

For the sake of what is left of the country’s already battered reputation, and his own, he should clear his name sooner rather than later. Najib’s 1 Malaysia requires of him that he put the interest of the nation above his own.

We cannot have a prime minister who is not prepared to answer these serious allegations about his involvement in some seedy criminal activities, or those bordering on the criminal, and yet who expects us to embrace his yet hazy and unclear 1 Malaysia and to shower him with our trust and affection.

I know all these allegations may have no basis in fact and, therefore, all the more reason for Najib to let the criminal justice system be the arbiter of truth. Perceptions may not have any basis in fact, but they are real.

Najib wants so desperately to be loved, and to be well thought of. I see nothing wrong with that. It is just a silly bit of misplaced, self-serving egoism, a very human weakness most of us suffer from, but it is a harmless desire. However, there is everything wrong, if as rumours have it, public funds are being used to pay international and local spin doctors to bolster up his position.

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