by Mohd Ariff Sabri
In an earlier article, I have mentioned a bit about the late Tun Dr Ismail. Some people cannot accept the comparison saying there’s no need to drag in Tun Ismail in the issue in question. Or saying Tun Ismail’s time was history.
Of course the personal attacks against me continue. I am after all a running dog of the daPIGs and my tokongs are the Lim Family. These diatribes and vitriol are of no consequence to me. I, a Malay and a Muslim and a rightful citizen of Malaysia find no contradiction being in the DAP.
We can all co- exist because we are united and resolute in struggling and fighting for a just, equitable and fair society through the instrument of the democratic process. I hope this can be sufficiently understood by people with sufficient intelligence.
People are free to believe in UMNO and what it struggles for. We are likewise free not to believe in UMNO.
We reject violence and unconstitutional approach to changing government. That is the basis which unites Malaysians who want to be in the DAP. I find it laughable the call from some Malays that they enter DAP to get into the CEC or get some posts. If they join DAP to get these, then don’t join. Let only those with similar convictions join.
So, in reprising the role of Tun Dr Ismail, what’s the issue? The issue here is the conduct of a leader. And Tun Ismail is a pertinent example for us to compare him and the current Home Affairs Minister who has acted imbecilic so many times. Using Tun Ismail as an example further reinforces our argument about the absence of leadership in Malaysia. Tun Ismail is an example of responsible conduct and to act fairly, justly and in accordance to the rule of law.
One cabinet minister wanted to bring his daughter in law who was from China into Malaysia. Malaysia then had no diplomatic relations with Communist China as well as with some iron curtain countries. Malaysian citizens cannot go into communist countries and citizens from communist countries were not able to come into Malaysia. That was the law in regards movement of citizens between countries with no diplomatic ties.
The cabinet minister didn’t have the courage to ask Tun Ismail directly and therefore asked Tunku Abdul Rahman to intercede. Tunku wrote a note to Tun Ismail to help out. Tun Ismail sent back the request with a short reply. YAM Tunku, there is not even a legal provision in our country to consider this case.
I mentioned of a quote which Tun Ismail was fond of saying- an honest man is not necessarily a nice man. He was a man prepared to act truthfully and honestly even at the risk of being un-nice. Readers can read more about Tun Ismail from the book The Reluctant Politician.
As for me, I will relate some of the nuances and unconscious personal inflexions associated with Tun Ismail. I am sharing some minor details about the life of Tun Ismail which were related to me by someone who worked with Tun Ismail at the Home Ministry for a very long time.
The importance of Tun Ismail lies not in an attempt to paint Tun Ismail as a person bigger than life. He has earned that place already in our history. More importantly, we can treat Tun Ismail for his exemplary conduct- unflinching in holding up the rule of law. In the aftermath of May 13, there was still ISA and I mentioned about it in the earlier article, because that was what was said. I could have sanitised it by saying- if you don’t retract the letter, I will send you to jail.
We are familiar with the saying, with great power comes greater responsibility. Tun Ismail has sought to live to the maxim as honestly and truthfully as he could.
It seems leadership lessons from Tun Ismail are more important nowadays. We have a Prime Minister who seems to act and conduct himself as a PM for UMNO not of the nation. On matters that threaten social cohesion, he has chosen to remain aloofly silent. We then have a Home Affairs Minister who acts and conducts himself as a Home Affairs Minister for UMNO and the underground elements. After all he says these people are his friends.
What can we learn from Tun Ismail? He can be cited as an example of a person who acts responsibly with the powers with which he was given. A person should always conduct himself honourably when dealing with others whose fates are likely to be affected by his actions.
Even from the Islamic standpoint, it is more important to exercise proper conduct according to the Islamic principles rather than behaving like a mere Muslim. Especially in these turbulent times, it is necessary and important to distinguish between being a Muslim and conducting oneself according to Islamic principles.
In Malaysia as in many Muslim countries, there are many Muslims but little Islam is practised. Absent from daily routine is the tolerance, mutual respect and rejection of violence demanded from the religion of Peace.
Nowadays, many Malays like to portray themselves as Muslims without necessarily upholding Islamic principles. They represent themselves as Muslims through their speeches, clothing and attire and advertise themselves as pious Muslims. But more often than not, their conduct is unIslamic.
Islam is a religion of peace. But so many among us depict the ugly side of ourselves when interacting with people of different religious and cultural backgrounds.
* Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz is the DAP MP for Raub, Pahang. He blogs at sakmongkol.blogspot.com. The views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the columnist.
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