Has Azmin met his Waterloo in Rompin?

Farrah Hani Izzudin, Free Malaysia Today

I refer to the FMT report, “Azmin booed at Felda event”.

I must say that I was surprised by the crowd’s reaction. It speaks volumes about the psyche of the rural community, particularly the Felda settlers who attended the event.

In Malay culture, it is rude to run down a host, no matter how much disdain we have for him or her.

Malays have a thing about observing public decorum and protecting one’s reputation. This is especially so when it involves political leaders, given centuries of the feudal mindset ingrained in the community’s psyche.

The older Malays tend to use indirect references or euphemisms when they want to run down somebody.

So, for the crowd on Sunday, made up of largely elderly Felda settlers to jeer at a senior minister while he was giving a speech, speaks volumes about their pent-up feelings towards Azmin, as well as the Mahathir administration, the VVIP at the event.

Their reaction comes at a time when Azmin is caught in a political storm following the release of a gay sex video allegedly featuring him. He has rubbished the allegations, but his accuser Haziq Aziz is standing his ground.

In the Malay community, homosexuality is a major no-no. For better or worse, the Malays can stomach a corrupt leader or one grossly incompetent, but not someone who is into gay sex, something Islam has condemned.

While Azmin is innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law, the court of public opinion is another matter.

There is growing suspicion among the Malays on why he refuses to take the Muslim oath of sumpah laknat to clear his name.

Meanwhile, Afif Bahardin’s attempts to defend Azmin was at best, lame. He said the negative reception for Azmin had to do with Pahang being an Umno stronghold.

That explanation is silly, because it was Azmin’s ministry, which Felda comes under, which chose the location.

Azmin and Pakatan Harapan were supposed to have been the saviours for Felda settlers after years of mismanagement under Barisan Nasional. Azmin was not meant to be the whipping boy.

Going by the Felda crowd’s reaction, it appears that Azmin and his team do not have their hands on the pulse of this community. The negative reaction can well be the reflection of the larger rural Malay sentiments.

This, coupled with the mounting pressure on Azmin following the gay sex video, may see a realignment of political forces in the run-up to Mahathir’s eventual departure from politics.

As it stands, Azmin is staring at his own Waterloo.

Farrah Hani Izzudin is an FMT reader.