Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Time for politicians to grow up

The last few weeks have been very interesting for all seasoned politicos because there were a number of incidents and instances that has once again reaffirmed the need for politicians to grow up.

The incident I wish to zero in on is the failed 1MDB debate. Tony Pua, the Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara, has been one of the most vocal critics of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and has consistently sough a verbal duel with Arul Kanda, the President of 1MDB.

However, Tony Pua is also a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that is investigating allegations of malfeasance in 1MDB. Despite having a clear conflict of interest, Tony Pua continued to display puerile tendencies and challenged Arul for a debate.

Arul initially responded that Tony Pua will have to vacate his position on the PAC as it would be improper for an arbiter to also be an opponent as Tony Pua will have to “pass judgment” on 1MDB as a member of the PAC.

However, after repeated dares and taunts from Tony Pua and his cohorts, Arul relented and agreed to a “no holds barred” debate with Tony Pua. Then Tony Pua “changes horses at midstream” and says it will not be a debate but a question and answer session with him asking all the questions. He even posed 10 questions to Arul.

Realising he has been boxed in Tony Pua then runs to the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat and he puts a stop to this debate that Arul never asked for the first place and I dare to say that Tony Pua ended up looking comical because despite his open proclamations of indignation at the state of affairs at 1MDB he effectively “ran away” albeit in a very cunning way when it seemed that the debate we were all anticipating would actually take place.

As a consolation but I found it terribly insulting, Tony Pua then asked Rafizi Ramli, the Member of Parliament for Pandan, to take his place. Arul refused this new arrangement and for me it was absolutely the correct decision because Tony Pua started this charade and he should stand by his challenge.

Now, what has this episode taught us?

First, Tony Pua must show the PAC the respect it deserves. To borrow a legal analogy, how can a judge also be a lawyer and argue the very causing he or she is supposed to judge. This is a fundamental lack of respect for the due process and it once again shows that Pakatan (not sure if there is Harapan or not) show a wanton disregard for basic principles of justice and procedures of parliamentary hearings.

Second, why did Tony Pua go on a charade and end up making a mickey of himself when one can reasonably deduce that he was never interested in debating Arul in the first place.

Third, can Pakatan politicians be taken seriously on their criticism of 1MDB if they have failed, as in the case of Tony Pua, for want of a better term, “put their money where their mouth is.” His credibility has also been severely dented.

It is indeed troubling that politicians in Malaysia will use allegedly stolen documents to make a case that buttresses their political objectives with complete disregard for the sanctity of our economic system.

Furthermore, the constant attacks have also jeopardised the process of rationalisation that has been undertaken by 1MDB and this again shows that Pakatan politicians do not want to solve problems rather they wish to use problems of 1MDB as political fodder.

I think Malaysians must take a long and hard look at how some politicians have conducted themselves and it is important to also note politicians need to grow up and work in the national interests and not against it.

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