Thursday, September 19

The mirror of politicians’ words


THE story is told of a man who considered himself a great artist and loved to criticise the art works of others to show his superiority over them.

One day, he visited the museum with some friends. As the tour began, he started to give a piece of his mind on the various paintings and artistic creations on display.

Standing in front of a full length portrait mirror, he let fly his critical appraisals. It so happened he had left his glasses at home that day, and was, thus, hilariously unaware he was speaking to a mirror.

In an officious tone, he said: “The frame is altogether out of keeping with the picture. The subject is too homely and shabbily dressed. In fact he’s ugly, and it was a great mistake for the artist to select such a shoddy subject for his portrait.”

His wife quickly pulled him aside and whispered: “My dear, you are looking into a mirror.”

Lo and behold, he has all the while been throwing barbs at himself!

Given that this just a story, it should, nonetheless, still be interesting to take a look at the full-length portrait mirrors of some of our politicians.

The headline screamed: “Muhyiddin the biggest stumbling block to govt recognition of UEC: Nazri.”

This was the title of a news story in a national Chinese daily where Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz spoke about the United Examination Certificate (UEC).

He said he supported government recognition for UEC, adding: “It wasn’t just lip service. I had met with Dong Zong leaders to identify the reasons why UEC could not be recognised.

“After I got their acceptance that a credit in SPM Bahasa Malaysia should be a pre-condition, I brought up the matter for discussion in the Cabinet. But Muhyiddin objected.”

Calling Muhyiddin the biggest stumbling block, Nazri questioned why he had not voiced his objection when he had the power as the Education Minister.

We are not privy to what actually happened in the Cabinet at the time. But I’m quite amazed the opinion of one man (Muhyiddin) could overturn a well-researched proposal put forth by Nazri just like that.

I believe Malaysians would have expected the Cabinet to be more open-minded, considerate and civil.

The Youth and Culture Minister is notoriously loose with words. The most recent example of this is calling Malaysia’s richest man Robert Kuok a ‘pondan’ (pansy) and ‘ayam betina’ (hen) that hides behind walls in Hong Kong, funding the DAP.

Despite Kuok vehemently denying ever funding the opposition party to oust the government as alleged, Nazri has refused to apologise to Kuok.

In a recent interview with the same national Chinese Daily, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said: “The wrong decision (in acting against Anwar) was to act entirely based on law.

“I would not do that (act against Anwar) from a political point of view. It’s because when I became the prime minister, I promised myself not do anything that would make people dislike me.”

Many of us could still remember a ‘mattress’ was brought in and out of court during Anwar’s sodomy trial. The world also remembers the black-eye incident in the lock-up.

Mahathir continued to say he should have put aside justice so that he would not make so many people dislike him.

The 93-year-old former national BN chairman and Umno president turned opposition leader, in trying to justify his remorse, said many people were not particular about proper legal procedures but only wanted political benefits.

“I could have used ISA to detain. The legal proceedings took nine months before he (Anwar) was jailed. Had I been a dictator, I could have sent him straight to jail.”

He has to put the blame on the police, saying: “I was not happy with the police. I asked why they won’t put Anwar on trial. They did not tell me initially, but later said they had given him a ‘black eye’ punch. I insisted he should be taken to court.”

Yes, very often, we are quick to see the faults of others but refuse to admit we too have committed the same faults ourselves.

As the Biblical saying goes: “Why condemn the specks of sawdust in your brother’s eyes when you cannot see the beam in your own.”

Indeed, people living in glass houses should not throw stones.

The judgmental visually-impaired man standing in front of the mirror (without his glasses) had been pouring scorn on his own reflection until alerted to the fact by his wife and we could be doing the same thing if we allowed ourselves to descend to his level.

Can we be really that blind to our own faults – as big as some of them are – or do we practise selective visualisation, allowing the eye of our mind to see the faults of others but remain blind to our own?

Let’s stand before a full-length portrait of the Bible’s mirror and ponder over the following verse: “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” – (James 3:17-18)

Let’s also heed the wise words of Johor’s Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim when he reminded Nazri “he is not a god from the heavens who lords over everybody. The position exists for you to serve the people.”

We look forward to politicians installing full portrait mirrors at home or in their office as we brace for GE14, rightly dubbed the Mother of all elections in Malaysia.