The tackiest wedding of the year

With rumours circulating that Ali Rustam is seeking an important role in the Umno hierarchy, he was prepared to politicise his son’s wedding. 

Mariam Mokhtar, FMT

The award for the tackiest wedding of the year should go to Malacca Chief Minister Ali Rustam, who treated his son and daughter-in-law as goods and touted their wedding in a sponsorship deal.

The newlyweds have been propelled into the glare of publicity, for the wrong reasons. Cynics will make fun of them and say that instead of the usual marriage vows, the groom, Mohd Ridhwan, will have said, “I accept Nur Azieha’s hand in marriage, with the mas kahwin of an undisclosed amount, provided for by the taxpayer.”

As a true blue-blood Umnoputra, Ali Rustam is more concerned about image, much like his mentor Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. The CM lacks humility, and has no respect for the sanctity of the marriage union. Many aspects of the wedding smack of corrupt dealings. The CM has, in the past, faced allegations of “money politics”.

To accept sponsorship for his son’s wedding is degrading, but Ali is neither the first, nor last. Over the years, many other social climbers and celebrities have paraded a variety of products from cup noodles to chocolates.

With rumours circulating that Ali is seeking an important role in the Umno hierarchy, he was prepared to politicise his son’s wedding, and gain brownie points. The wedding chariot, the beca, was decked with tinselled “1Malaysia” cut-outs – tasteless shows of allegiance which doubtless, will have gone down well with Najib.

Behind the scenes, it is possible that one or more companies have offered to “sponsor” the newlyweds on an all-expenses-paid-honeymoon in an exotic idyll.

The truth is that Ali is a cheapskate. He knows that in this day and age of keeping up with the Joneses, he could not be content with a quiet family affair. Grand weddings do not come cheap.

As he was unable to sell the rights to his son’s wedding to the celebrity gossip magazine “OK!” then perhaps, in his opinion, local companies would suffice. Anything to get free goods and services. Umno politician = Freeloader.

Out of touch with reality

Most sensible parents treat the wedding of their children as a joyous and memorable occasion, but Ali treats his son’s wedding like a conveniently prepared “3-in-1” coffee drink: the sweetener equals the companies and government departments providing free goods or services; the creamer equals the gifts from the businesses desperate to kowtow to Ali. These are pre-mixed with the coffee powder (the wedding couple). The guests, all 130,000 of them, equal the hot water. All the CM has to do is to add hot water to the 3-in-1 mix, except this time, Ali has found himself in hot water.

Austerity measures are a necessary part of our lives and many Malaysians struggle to feed their families. Ali is unaffected by increased costs of basic goods, petrol and services. He is reported to have said that the wedding was “cheap to organise”, and has hit back at his critics calling them “spiteful and jealous”.

Ali is far removed from reality. He wants to impress with his wealth and described the RM600,000 bill as “cheap”. Perhaps, it is cheap and “not extravagant” by Umno standards. One fears to think what Umno politicians consider “expensive”. Is Ali aware that some Malaysians earn less than RM600,000 a year?

The hefty bill raises two questions: First. How does a CM on the government payroll, have access to such sums of money? Second. He is a public official and in any civilized part of the world, free lunches must be declared to the body which monitors gratuities given to public servants.

Malaysians are weary of their public officials stealing the taxpayers’ money. The amount of government agencies and businesses “sponsoring” the wedding reception is a conflict of interest. What did they get in exchange for providing goods and services?

People who see nothing wrong with Ali’s misappropriation of public funds must know that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Neither Ali nor his colleagues in Umno understand the meaning of “conflict of interest”. Ali brushed aside claims of corruption. He takes his cue from Najib who misused taxpayers’ money when he allegedly flew close friends and family to Kazakhstan for an “official meeting”. It was alleged that Najib and his entourage had attended the engagement party of his daughter to the nephew of the Kazakhstan president.