Friday, July 04, 2008
And now for the swimsuit event
Hot on the heels of fresh allegations of sodomy levelled against Anwar Ibrahim by a former aide comes a counter-allegation in the form of a statutory declaration (now retracted) by Abdul Razak Baginda's private investigator which not only links Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to the Altantuya case but alludes to his first-hand knowledge that she was 'susceptible to anal intercourse'. All other implications aside—that Najib's alleged suppression of information regarding his relationship with the murdered Mongolian is part of a 'clear and consistent pattern of manipulation of the criminal justice system' by government—this sordid tit-for-tat (or perhaps, rectum-for-rectum) play between the two brings into focus one of the fundamental flaws in democracy: the tendency to equate popularity with competence with regards to political candidates.

Everyone talks about the new Malaysian ideal of parity between ethnic groups and choosing a person to do a job not because he is Malay, Chinese, or Indian but because he is right for it. The underlying notion here is that performance matters more than appearance. So why can we not apply this more consistently? The fact that the public holds politicians to some sort of higher standard smacks of hypocrisy and not a little stupidity. Why is it that when, say, an able heart surgeon caught bumming another man or sleeping with his mistress he is still seen as an able heart surgeon but when politicians are caught with their pants down they are vilified and sent into political wilderness?

If we are going to do this democracy shtick, then we should at least do it right. This assignment of moral superiority to elected officials is ridiculous. They are not our social betters, they are merely normal people with normal foibles nominated to positions of governance through the mechanism of voting because, ostensibly, they are fit for the post. They did not somehow rise above us by virtue of having better spousal relations, greater filial piety or higher attendance at mosque or temple. They are there because we put them there to do a job. If they are deplorably bad at it, such as the present administration, they have to go. If they are good at what they do, they should stay. If they choose to poke the chocolate starfish in private, it is really none of anybody's business, so long as their work suffers not.

Those who disagree should take a long, hard look Malaysia's continually declining star and ask themselves if we do not deserve the best we can get, sexual proclivities be damned, rather than contend with the superintendence of the virtuously inept.

posted by Hong at 7:17 am | Permalink |