Monday 26 March 2012

The families from hell


Recent negative news reports about senior politicians and their children mean only one thing: they are the ‘families from hell'. If there were a national survey on whether Umno ministers are terrible politicians or bad parents, then the answer would be that some of them excel at both.

Umno families probably consider themselves victims because the rakyat has been "poisoned" by the opposition and fail to understand the pressures these people face. Hell, it happens. A little show of wealth and these peasants (you and I) overreact.

As a child, didn't you sometimes wish you could disown your parents, especially when they are dressed in clothes that were too young for them, or acted like teenagers?

Perhaps, as a parent, you sometimes wish you could trade your belligerent offspring for your work rival's; she with the well-behaved and attractive son or daughter who scored straight As, who helps with the household chores and who volunteers at the local community centre? Who wouldn't want to be the parent of a little angel?

Well, Umno parents and Umno children deserve each other. The rakyat is happy to say "good riddance" to them.

One must be fair. Overworked politicians do not have much time to spend with their children. What do we, the rakyat know about work pressures? Scandals being raked up by the opposition play havoc with the golf schedule and happy hour. Prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, anxious to maintain his grip on power, is micro-managing the movements of the Umno politicians.

Expensive toys cheap substitute for parental love

Already, the former finance minister and former Umno treasurer Daim Zainuddin has predicted Najib's downfall, should he fail to improve BN's performance in GE13: "Reclaiming two-thirds majority is a good vision but (Najib) should be more practical... if, unfortunately, he loses more seats, Umno will oust him. This is politics".

NONEAre the complaints of the rakyat justified? Ministers consider the taxpayers' money is well spent if it frees up their time, so that they can devote themselves to solving the rakyat's problems. Thus, they consider expensive toys, or a generous allowance for their children, to be cheap substitutes for parental love and guidance. Already, three of the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil's children have access to around RM250 million.

It is said that when Najib's father, Razak Hussein, occupied Sri Taman, the former official residence of the prime minister, the young Najib and his siblings asked their father if a swimming pool could be built. Razak, who was sensitive to public perception, and aware that the public would have to bear the cost of such trappings of luxury, reputedly told his children off.

These days, the Umno ministers' attitude is one of apathy and indifference. "Who cares what the rakyat thinks? What my child wants, he gets." So, did Najib suffer some psychological trauma that now means he has to shower his children (and wife) with gifts as a show of love and devotion?

The danger is that when ministers fail to show a good example, poorer folk tend to emulate them. The children of ministers are a menace in expensive imported cars, lesser mortals wreak havoc on their kapchai. What's the difference?

Ministers' children own apartments, both in the capital and overseas. No graduate could afford several Bangsar condominiums on a miserly graduate's monthly salary of RM2,000.

This Malaysian phenomenon extends to East Malaysia. The children of the Sarawak chief minister suffer the same "must-have" cravings.

For these children, their obscene wealth is balanced by their complete lack of responsibility. Our children toil to get a foot on the property ladder. These ministerial children haven't got a clue about hard work. They lack morals and believe that power is in their hands. The mere mention of mama, or papa's name is sufficient to open doors and make people grovel.

Ostentation and greed of the power-crazed ministers
We may be angered at the ostentation and greed of the power-crazed ministers and their children, but there are some who are grateful they exist.

In Shahrizat's neighbourhood, the people are glad a minister lives among them. Police patrols regularly ply the area. There is little crime.

When people like Mohamad Nedim Nazri, the son of the de facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz, socialises, they act like minor royals. Hangers-on are delighted. Who wouldn't be? Free-drinks, girls on tow, and free entry into the best bars and nightclubs. Underaged children, underdressed Malay girls and drunken Muslims are common when these people paint the town red, but no one says anything. Who dares and who cares?

The role of the minder is to smooth things over. Some are alleged to be in collusion with the police, so that the ministerial sprog will never frequent a joint that is going to be raided.

One can imagine the red faces in government circles, if their children's mugshots were to be plastered over the front pages of the newspapers, not that the mainstream papers would dare.

Minister's children (and also the children of prominent Malaysian millionaires) do not like their paths to be crossed nor their authority questioned. They play on our serf-like mentality. Mention royalty and we are supposed to quiver.

We know that the law, the enforcement officers and the judiciary are stopped from defending the rights of the common man. The tentacles of terror stretch thousands of miles. A maid who had allegedly been raped by her employer, a cabinet minister, thought she was safe after escaping to a neighbouring country. But she was threatened and forced to retract her allegation of rape.

That is the norm. People are silenced. Paid off. Intimidated. Their livelihoods, their friends and their families threatened.

Parental love for children does not extend to spoiling them. The rise in juvenile delinquency has sometimes been blamed on parental irresponsibility. Sure, other factors are involved, but when a child is over-pampered, when he does not know his boundaries and when he lacks discipline, the result is wild, feral children.

Your children are subject to rules; but not the children of the political elite. In our Umno cabinet, power, greed and material wealth have displaced good old-fashioned values, and a sense of morality.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak', this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

1 comment:

  1. No child/minor has the right to use official name card of their parents..