Top posts

Featured Posts

Let’s learn from the bad experiences with ‘first ladies.’

By Daniel John Jambun, columnist of Borneo Post

AS if Malaysia doesn’t have enough problems already, here we have another one with the wife of the Prime Minister, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansur, who insists on being called the country’s “First Lady of Malaysia.” The first problem is everyone knows that the real first lady in the country is the Permaisuri Agong, not the Prime Minister’s wife. The second problem is that Rosmah has taken on the title and created it into a position with administrative powers and functions at
Putrajaya by setting up an office at her husband’s department now called the office of the FLOM (First Lady of Malaysia). And this is not a wishy-washy position because it is now functioning with a full staff of six, comprising Special Officer with a Personal Assistant, Asst. Officer with Special Functions, with a Personal Assistant, and two more Asst. Officers with Special Functions.

While we wonder about the dubious title for Rosmah, there is a bigger problem facing us all, which is the matter of legitimacy or legality of the setting up of the office for the position which is not provided for in the constitution and has never been practiced anywhere in the world before this – not in the parliamentary system of Britain or in the Congress of the United States. In 2009, Gordon Brown had to apologise in Parliament for using BSP6,500 to pay the allowance of his housemaid. Imagine the uproar if it has been for setting up of his wife’s office as the First Lady, against the position of the queen of England, at 10, Downing Street! The other serious problem is that now Rosmah is interfering in the running of the country altbough she is not an elected representative, not a member of the federal cabinet, and not a diplomat. She has absolutely no position in government, other than being the wife of the Prime minister and she is acting in the capacity of a minister of random capacity. So far she had acted to set aside the Minister of…., sharizat… and the Minister of foreign Affairs, and Datuk Anifah Aman by going to Oman as is she was a Malaysian leader.

The most serious problem is that she is doing all these at the expense of the people, squandering the people’s money, not at the instruction of the government, but at her own initiatives. The big question is, why is the Prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun razak allowing all this to happen, knowing it is wrong and ludicrous, and making Malaysia a laughing stock in the international community? Doesn’t Najib know this is costing the rakyat, demoralizing the rakyat and costing the Barisan Nasional in terms of support. Is Najib thinking that there are so many scandals already, so what is another ‘small’ one? Or is it possible that Najib is being manipulated by his wife and he is not willing or able to fight it?

As a nation which talks of Vision 2020, ”bersih, cekap dan amanah,” “gemilang, cemerlang dan terbilang,” we cannot afford to turn a blind eye, or be shortsighted about such abuses now done by Rosmah. I refuse to believe that Rosmah is Najib’s other version of 1Malaysia, because her local and international antics is really breaking up the country. I also feel the BN leaders are cowards for not voicing out their objection to Rosmah’s unconstitutional position. Anifah and Datuk Seri Rais Yatim even praised her for her efforts to improve Malaysia’s ties with Oman!

We still remember when Rsomah responded to a sworn statement against her by Raja Petra Kamaruddin when she said, “I am not a politician! I am just the wife of a politician!” Well, she is now definitely a politician, more than a lot of ministers!

We need to be wise and call a national wrong a wrong, and not pretend it is alright because such a thing becomes a disease that will affect everyone. We need to go back to history and re-learn the lessons suffered by nations because of the misbehavior of their ‘first ladies’. The most famous of these is Marie Antoinette, the strong-willed wife of the weak King Louis XVI of France. A queen of foreign origin, she helped to bankrupt France, driving the people to poverty and hunger, partly causing the French Revolution in which she and her husband were guillotined. Rosmah is now widely called the Imelda Marcos of Malaysia, in reference to the wife of Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. Imelda, a excessive lover of shoes, like Rosmah has a great passion for handbags, was also a first lady who acted more than a minister while helping her husband drive her country to bankruptcy with high spendings and frauds. The other famous first lady that helped to bring down the economy of her country was Eva Peron of Argentina. The people loved her because she was seen as a benevolent wife of the president who helped her people with welfare programmes but it was all money that the country didn’t have. And the latest fall of a government in Tunisia was partly caused by Leila Trabelsi, the wife of the ousted President of Tunisia, Zine al-Abidine ben Ali. Leila squandered the people money and the plundered the national treasure by giving financial favours to her cronies.

Wives of leaders should be just that – wives. The people have very low tolerance for wives who act like generals. So until when is Najib going to keep quiet about it? Until when are the members of Najib’s cabinet going to pretend everything is alright and in order? Can wrong prevail against the truth? Is arrogance preferred and humility has not more value? Let’s see how this silly story develops after this.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog