Drawing on the first person narrative, the Tengku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, widely known as TMJ, addressed a “friend” who had recently become sickly. The emphasis on the latter: sickly.
Throughout the article, which was posted on July 8, the tone was poignant, touching, even poetic: what happened to you, my friend?
What happened to you, my friend? Indeed, what happened to you, my family Malaysia?
This article deserves the widest admiration, and instant recognition, because it came deep from his heart, and must have struck a chord with his own loss.
It was just in December 2015 that TMJ, had lost his own brother to terminal cancer. His family, indeed, the whole State of Johor, is still in mourning.
Just as National Poetry Laureate, the late Osman Awang, wrote a heart-rending poem, on the “loss” and passing of his mother decades ago, TMJ’s article carries the same impact and implications.
His article was an ode, not merely to the sickness of Malaysia, but a certain passing of a way of life, where corruption has not merely become endemic but entrenched at the highest echelons in the government. Corruption used to be a fact of life in Malaysia, now it has become a way of life, a “tradition” in the words of TMJ.
The losses are not merely confined to a sense of drift, but a wholesale abandonment of the beautiful Malay and Malaysian way of life.
Instead of a “selendang” and a “songkok”, which would have just as beautifully marked the purity of the Malay way of life, the flowing Arab “thob” and “niqab”, have been customised to replace the cultural icons of the Malays.
Yet, amidst this “Arabisation”, the ethics and injunctions of Islam have been thrown at the wayside. Muslims forgot their duties to protect the non-Muslims, but insist that it is the non-Muslims who must give way to them.
Some of these references are not context specific, but when a person who cannot ride a horse is catapulted, almost matter-of-factly, to the back of one, invariably to represent Malaysia at the coming Southeast Asia Games, surely the rights of more qualified players may have been sacrificed.
The dark clouds of corruption have gathered
When the money of the people is spent, alas, by burning the fuel of the private jets to ferry the people in power to exotic holiday locations, truly what TMJ is saying is akin to what Prince Hamlet had once said: “Something must be rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Malaysians need not be the son or daughter of the state of Johor to understand the importance of TMJ’s message. Like many, he knows the darks clouds of corruption had gathered in Malaysia without fail since 2009. It is intense as if it has evolved into being a norm, rather than an exception.
Whether it is Pagoh or the kampung folk in Penaga in Penang, Malaysia is, after all, connected by the North and South, indeed, East and West.
It is praiseworthy that TMJ did not suggest as a fact that Malaysia, given the depth of corruption that has been and still being investigated by more than six countries or jurisdiction, will perish.
Malaysia is sickly. No doubt. TMJ has conceded just as much. But he also alluded to the need for hope and faith. That Malaysia can be redeemed by its counterparts in Sabah and Sarawak.
This reference to Sabah and Sarawak resonates deeply across Malaysia, because new parties like Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan), is doing what it can do, to prevent Malaysia from being sucked dry by the current helmsmen in Putrajaya.
It is also important to note that an Anak Johor, like Muhyiddin Yassin, was the first deputy prime minister in Malaysia to speak out against the grand larceny of the 1MDB scandal, openly.
In Islam, the best expression of “iman” or, faith, is based on compliance to Fardu Ain and Fardu Kifayah. But it also involves the Quranic injunctions to speak “truth to powers”.
Speaking “truth to powers” invariably involves being close to the people and the underprivileged, as the Johor Royalty is widely known for, as marked by the gesture of the Sultan of Johor to build 1,800 decent affordable homes for those eligible Johoreans.
As Prophet Muhammad SAAS, holding two fingers close together, affirmed that, “I and those who care for orphans will be in the Garden [Heaven] like this,” as reported by Sahl ibn Sa’d and recorded by Imam Nawawi.
Today Malaysia isn’t an “anak yatim piatu” yet. But given the TMJ’s address of his sickly friend, we know that His Royal Highness has seen the signs on the proverbial wall.
His article deserves the widest circulation by every Malaysian, or, even by non-Malaysian as well. Indeed, this is where the battle to regain the glory of Malaysia starts. In football, through the TMJ’s management of FAM. In, and across Malaysia, by first fighting to make Malaysia a family that is whole and healthy again. How? We must exercise our constitutional right to throw out a corrupt government through the democratic process.
Rather than to continue to stomp for a government by the powers that be, to split the country, all in the false name of Malay unity and Islam – only to leave the country high and dry; while the culprits sequester their corruptions abroad. The latter are the ones without nary the thought for those in Malaysia who deserve more. Billion times more. Not through BR1M. But to BRING Malaysia back! God knows it is just about time!
To TMJ, on behalf of all Malaysians who are hungry for credible change, a big thank you. Please continue to fight for us through your voice of reason, voice of compassion and voice of love for this nation, our nation, and your subjects.
RAIS HUSSIN is a supreme council member of Parti Peribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu). He also heads the Policy and Strategy Bureau of Bersatu.