Black eye to police-disappeared pastor and political moral compasses

Black eye to police-disappeared pastor and political moral compasses

By: Rama Ramanathan

What is the nexus between political parties and the moral compass within each of us? What should we call politicians who betray the trust we place in them?

In 1999 the genius of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was to choose a name for his party which challenged the dacing (scales [of justice]) symbol of the ruling coalition (BN). He chose Keadilan.

Keadilan (justice) appeals to voters who want justice restored. Keadilan appeals to morality.

In 2015 the genius of Mohd Sabu was to choose a name for his party which challenged corrupt politicians who abuse the trust people place in them. He chose Amanah.

Amanah (trust) appeals to voters who want politicians who won’t betray voters by abusing political offices. Amanah appeals to morality.

In 2016 the genius of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was to choose a name for his party which challenged the appeal of Umno, the dominant race-based party. He chose Pribumi Bersatu.

Pribumi Bersatu (“united ‘earlier’ princes of the soil”) appeals to ethnic Malay voters who claim first-class citizenship in Malaysia. Pribumi appeals to ethnicity – though it must be noted that Pribumi is so embarrassed of its apartheid-era name that it calls itself Bersatu.

In 1965 the genius of the ten founders of DAP was to choose a name for their party which stressed equality (democracy) and action. They chose Democratic Action.

DAP (democratic action party) appeals to voters who want changes aimed at producing equal rights and opportunities for all. DAP appeals to morality.

Space does not allow me to discuss Borneon parties which are also members of Pakatan Harapan (“alliance of hope”), the ruling coalition. Suffice to say that the names of the Bornean parties also appeal to ethnicity.

I’ve shown that the names chosen for several key parties are designed to appeal to voters’ sense of morality. I will now introduce some elements to be considered before proposing a name voters’ should choose for politicians who, by their silence or inaction, prove that they made false appeals.

“Moral compass” refers to our innate, inextinguishable ability to separate right from wrong. We know in our hearts that it is wrong to steal, to sleep with another person’s spouse, to treat as inferiors people who don’t drive Alphard’s and so on.

In my last column, I mentioned the independent Special Investigation Taskforce which the government formed to investigate the black eye Anwar received in prison in 1998. That task force was formed in response to the people’s clamor over the wrong treatment of a weak person, a prisoner, by a strong person, the Inspector General of Police. It was a response to the urge of the moral compass.

I mentioned that task force as an expression of hope. I echoed a hope expressed by Suhakam at the conclusion of its careful and exhaustive 18 month Inquiry. Suhakam concluded that the alleged Shiite Amri Che Mat and the Christian Pastor Raymond Koh and their families are victims of abuse of power by the Special Branch of the Malaysian Police.

Suhakam called for an independent Special Investigation Task Force to find and bring to book the blue-garbed culprits. Suhakam said “those who have been put in charge so far are withholding the answers to these questions, or are refusing to undertake a diligent exercise to discover them, hence a new and separate task force needs to be set up to re-investigate the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh.” (Raymond Koh report, paragraph 190.)

A total of 28 days have passed since Suhakam published its careful work and broadcast its appeal for action to knock down the blue police wall of silence and denials, find the truth and charge the culprits.

Over the past 28 days the Suhakam report has spread through radio and TV, WhatsApp, Facebook and newspapers.

Over the past 28 days some elected representatives from the Democratic Action party and the Justice party have supported Suhakam’s call.

For 28 days the founder of the Justice (Keadilan) party and his wife, Wan Azizah, the Deputy Prime Minister, have been silent; the founder of the Trust (Amanah) party and all his MPs have been silent.

Over the past 28 months Christians have attended church services led by pastors over 120 times. Each time they look at a pastor, they see a potential victim of abuse of power by the police. At every service, human moral compasses ring alarm bells.

The inaction of Pribumi Bersatu Prime Minister Mahathir and Home Minister Muhyiddin, taken together with the Bumiputra-dominated police force of over 130,000 persons, tells us something else: “justice” and “trust” are, to cabinet members from the Keadilan and Amanah parties, just coins to trade for votes, not commitments to steer by their moral compasses.

What should we call such persons?

The genius of the founder of Christianity was to choose for them the name “hypocrites.” (See Matthew 23:27)

Rama Ramanathan blogs at and is the spokesperson for CAGED, Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Leaders Online.

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