Covid-19 pandemic could be the perfect smokescreen for politics


Covid-19 pandemic could be the perfect smokescreen for politics
By Zan Azlee

Sitting at home, one’s mind wanders far very easily. So here I am indulging in my wandering mind. The first thought that comes into my mind right now is the how Rina Harun (below), the minister for women, family and community development, could allow such inane advice for women to be published as public service announcement posters.

I guess it has gotten so much widespread attention and among people on social media that I needn’t need to go into detail explaining what advice it is. I think it suffices for me to just mention that it involved women having to wear make-up and to speak to their spouses by mimicking Doraemon to avoid arguments.

Rina Harun was made a minister when Pakatan Harapan won the general election in May 2018. When that happened, I (and I am sure many others) were surprised and the question I asked was ‘Who is that?’ Eventually, the answer came and I found out that she was a former longtime Umno member who joined Bersatu when it was formed.

So I guess it is only normal to see that when she joined the group that changed the government, she would just go back to the archaic ways of her former party. It shows that she is probably just a weed in the breeze, swaying whichever way it blows. Sure, she has apologised for asking women to be a cartoon character but it’s obvious she doesn’t get it.

I’m glad that nobody is taking her nonsense and that she is being called out for it. It’s just the same as how Dr Adham Baba, the Health Minister, gave his disputable advice of drinking warm water on national television in order to fight the coronavirus and prevent yourself from getting Covid-19. No surprise that he is also a former Umno member. Oh wait a minute, he was always Umno!

As my mind continues to wander, I start to think that these issues didn’t get by the public because it is related to the Covid-19 issue which is something that has everyone’s attention today because it is the news of the day – and rightfully so. What about other issues that are happening and are not getting attention because they are overshadowed by the pandemic?

This pandemic is the perfect smokescreen for the government or any political party to use in order to pull off other things that they might not want people to pay attention to. I don’t mean to bring things to a more sceptical political perspective but things like this do happen. Bill Clinton’s administration bombed Eastern Europe when the Monica Lewinsky scandal was headline news.

Think about it. On the exact day the movement control order (MCO) took effect, the new Perikatan Nasional government sacked the chairperson of Mara, Hasnita Hashim, and seven other board members who they deemed as political appointees. It made the news, of course, but it was quickly buried in the heaps of reports related to Covid-19.

Then there is the situation in Perak. The menteri besar, Ahmad Faizal Azumu (another former Umno member), who was reappointed after the whole “back door government” fiasco took place has yet to form his state executive council. When questioned about it, he said that there is no time limit as to when he needed to select his exco members.

So how long will the state be without proper leadership? Of course, this too made it into the news, but again was immediately pushed down the timeline by updates on Covid-19 (Azumu has since announced some of his state executive councillors). And since we’re already on it, Bersatu seems to be in a dilemma where there are two secretaries-general – Marzuki Yahya says his sacking isn’t valid and Hamzah Zainuddin who was just appointed.

I’m not blaming the news organisations or the people for not paying attention. Covid-19 is a much more serious matter and we do need to pay full attention to it. But that is exactly it. We need to be paying our full attention to it instead of wasting our time and resources on things that are way down on the priority list.

Everything is at a halt because we need to flatten the curve (it’s a pity because The Curve is such a nice shopping centre with lots of eateries! Sorry, I just had to!) Everyone’s life has been disrupted because we are told that we need to focus on one thing for now to keep our country safe and we realise that.

So I hope that every single person in Malaysia focuses on that instead of doing unscrupulous things in the hope that no one will notice. Come on! Dirty politics and all that can wait. It’s Malaysia we’re talking about so it’s not like it’s ever going away. Once the coronavirus has been kicked in the butt, we can go back to it.

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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