Malaysiakini Letter

The chameleon-like nature of M'sian political culture

Ronald Benjamin  |  Published:  |  Modified:

It is unfortunate that the political culture in Malaysia has lost its moral compass over the years. It seems that any means at one’s disposal is justified as long the enemy is defeated.

This is evident in the new political landscape of change we currently see in the country.

For example, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whose authoritarian rule was responsible for the weakening of institutions of justice over years, now speaks about the importance of independent institutions when he is no longer in power.

He currently supports term limits for prime minister. Why were such proposals not presented when he was helming the government?

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his cabinet ministers have repeatedly condemned  Mahathir for past mismanagement such as the foreign exchange losses in the ‘80s, crony capitalism and the jailing of political opponents.

Why were such acts of mismanagement and authoritarian rule condoned at that particular time, when an immediate motion of no confidence against Dr Mahathir would have forced him to step down earlier?

Why was there no ministerial dissent in the cabinet? Does this not show that Barisan Nasional ministers have lost their moral integrity and betrayed the rakyat by condoning wrongdoings? Is this not an act of political survival at all cost?

If Najib is sincere about fighting crony capitalism, why are certain deals involving government contracts still done without open tender?

The opposition parties, who had nothing good to say about Mahathir in his 20 years of reign, have now opportunistically accepted him as a political asset for rural votes.

Have Pakatan Harapan leaders forgotten that Mahathir’s style of politics cultivated ethnoreligious dominance in the minds of rural voters over the years, which has made it difficult to fight elite corruption?

What can clearly be seen is that the attitudes of politicians change based on political expediency rather than integrity. A chameleon-like behaviour is projected to the rakyat.

It is obvious that the end justifies the means. This behaviour of politicians seems to be exciting, especially for those who desire change over the years, but the truth is this excitement would only be for a while.

When moral integrity that sustains good governance is sacrificed in order to win at all costs, it will ultimately crush a party.

Therefore, it is vital for Malaysians to discern the behaviour of politicians who have lost their sense of moral integrity. Integrity is required in the DNA of politicians. They must be accountable for their actions.

A political culture of integrity will go a long way in rebuilding trust in our institutions. For this to happen, we need a breed of leaders who will bring about a new brand of politics that respects moral integrity. This would replace the chameleon-like nature of our current political culture.

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