Opinion

Yes, Teng, you should resign

Published:  |  Modified:

“Politicians are like bad horsemen who are so preoccupied with staying in the saddle that they can’t bother about where they’re going.”

- Joseph Alois Schumpeter

What I really want to know about this whole “manual guideline” fiasco for non-Muslim places of worship in Selangor is whether those places of non-Muslim worship that were approved by the state government were in accordance with those odious “recommendations” that were “mistakenly” inserted into the Selangor Manual Guideline and Selangor State Planning Standard.

Surely there is a procedure when approving non-Muslim places of worship, and since we all know what the establishment did on their watch, has the procedure changed since Pakatan took over? Religion is a sensitive issue in Malaysia only because of the disparity between the state-sanctioned religion and the minority religions in this country.

There are procedural arcana in place to ensure that the state religion and its adherents are not “insulted” or “challenged” by the other religions and this normally translates to restrictions placed on expressions of worship.

Now while senior Selangor state executive councillor Teng Chang Khim may be unsure how “serious” his mistake is, thus flippantly asking if he should resign, let me assure the senior state councillor that his mistake, while perhaps genuine - I say “perhaps”, because when a person in a position of power cavalierly questions if his mistake was “so serious” in a matter of grave import, I tend to question his credibility - his desire to fall on his sword is perhaps something he should seriously consider.

He will not, of course, because Selangor DAP chief Tony Pua has conveniently nixed the idea with that most banal of excuses “to err is human”, which only seems to apply to opposition politicians and their operatives, and of course, reminding - or should that be distracting - people with “...has neither stolen money from the state government coffers, nor abused his powers to benefit vested interest parties like developers”.

And really, “vested interest parties like developers”? Referring to Anwar Ibrahim’s letter from prison about how the opposition has been enamoured by the sudden influx of pecuniary interests, I wrote - "Actually, it is incestuous. Rich men with money are always hedging their bets. The average opposition supporter would be shocked by who funds whom. Plutocrats who are routinely mocked in the comment sections of Malaysiakini and the other ‘alternative’ news (sic) sources, have always been amenable to funding potentially powerful power structures. Money politics isn’t just an Umno thing.”

Meanwhile, Selangor state assembly speaker Hannah Yeoh said that "I strongly urge BN politicians to fix the said guidelines in their respective states instead of wasting time in futile politicking,” which is one of the more craven types of deflection ever uttered by an opposition politician and which hopefully opposition supporters will not fall for.

Why is the DAP "urging" BN to fix things? Pakatan should fix things in their own backyard before asking BN to do anything because supposedly Pakatan was voted in because they claimed they wanted to fix things which are wrong in this country. It is this type of politicking which the opposition relies on, and specifically the DAP, to get around the fact that they really have no intention of doing anything concrete beyond claiming that everything wrong with this country is the fault of Umno and voting for them would remedy this situation.

Of course, if this was a MCA mistake, the DAP would certainly not consider their political rivals human, much less capable of erring. If this was an MCA operative, the narrative would be that the MCA is incapable of “protecting” the interest of minorities in this country and just another reason why they should leave BN or fade into oblivion.

Of course, when Selangor MCA Youth legal bureau chief Ng Kian Nan admits that BN already has such restrictions in place but the Pakatan recommendations are much more regressive, points to a deeper malaise facing right-thinking Malaysians who want a strong committed secular opposition. It points to the opportunism that arises when a political alliance grasps power but wants to govern without changing the status quo.

There certainly would not be any of such excuse that “nobody was hurt”, which is a frankly stupid excuse, nor would there be any platitudes of “immediate steps are being taken to ensure that these errors are corrected upon discovery”, which involves having Muslims members of your own party assisting the councillor in this “sensitive” issue.

The reason this issue is “sensitive” is because Pakatan Harapan, or whatever it is called, is not working from a common secular framework. This is why there is always this need for politicians to engage in all manner of rhetorical gymnastics to finesse the idea that the Umno game is still in play but the so-called alternative coalition is playing it more “fair”...

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