Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, the former Youth and Sports Minister for Pakatan Harapan was charged on 22nd July for two counts of criminal breach of trust for allegedly misappropriating funds from Bersatu where bail was set for RM330,000 for the two charges. The Malaysian people however united behind Saddiq and assisted in raising more than RM700,000 for him to make bail.
The events that unfolded have brought to light an epidemic that has clouded Malaysians for generations, the epidemic of worshiping idols (in this case a politician). We have seen countless examples of this epidemic, look at Najib for example, at the end of the 2018 elections he was regarded as the worst prime minister Malaysia has ever seen and was charged in court for various alleged crimes he supposedly committed during his tenure, 1MDB being the biggest scandal he has to answer for. However, if you look at Najib today, he has not only garnered support from the people who believe he is innocent but has also crafted a public image as ‘Bossku’ which has gained enough traction to even exert pressure on the current government through his social media posts.
On another side of the spectrum, Anwar is another great example of this epidemic that has plagued our nation for far too long. Despite being charged in court for an offence of sodomy, the narrative behind his court ordeals revolves around it being a political move by the government to lock him up in prison due to his position as the opposition leader.
Looking at the two examples, we can clearly see that in Malaysia the determination of guilt is done by the citizens, where if enough support exists a person becomes innocent, at least in the public eye. Those who believe in Najib will forever cling to the idea of his innocence despite anything that happens in court and similarly Anwar will forever be regarded as a victim of political motives despite the courts holding him guilty of the offence.
Now the latest member to join this elite group of worshipped individuals is none other than Syed Saddiq himself. The sheer amount of money he raised within a short span is certainly a testament to the good work he has done during this Covid pandemic. Even among senior politicians, Saddiq was more successful in raising funds to distribute aid to his constituents in Muar and all his achievements were better spread through platforms like Tik Tok which are used more by youths today putting him higher on the pedestal. Despite many critics of his efforts, at least he actually made a difference with his power and no one can take away the amount of good he did.
However, the public must learn to hold a man accountable for his actions in isolation from other acts he may have committed. Just because a man has done charitable work does not automatically mean he is a good person or even a person incapable of committing a crime for that matter. In Saddiq’s case, the public should not automatically assume that him being charged in court means the government is attempting to silence him because just as easily an argument can be made against Saddiq on what kind of deals he was involved in with his previous party given that he was charged 7 months after investigations were completed. Did he renegade on a promise recently which prompted the sudden charge? Or was the money used for purposes that were not agreed upon? It is extremely simple to come up with conspiracy theories that could paint him as an angel or a devil depending on whose side you’re on.
As easily as Saddiq’s story of innocence can be flipped, so can other politicians riding this wave of idolism claim innocence from any charges they face while garnering support from a group of citizens especially by playing the race and religion cards. Najib’s alleged crimes can also easily be said to be a political move by our beloved grandpa to attack Najib’s character to defeat him in the elections. Anwar too will forever be remembered as being a victim where he was charged in court for an offence so grotesque that it seemed impossible he would have actually done it, despite similar claims being echoed till today.
It is our duty as a citizen to place our trust in the justice system so that the courts are able to effectively determine the innocence of a person and to accept the court’s decision as one taken through facts and law. Judges are appointed through years of experience and wisdom, and judgements are always given based on binding principles of law and not at their whims and fancies like what some dishonest people paint it to be. No individuals are perfect angels and more so our heroes are not often the idols we make them be. The trust placed in an institution can bring greater benefits than blindly trusting our idolized politicians whose truest motives we can never ascertain.
Although it is understandable in the world of politics to pick a side, one must not lose the ability to look at events rationally simply because our idols are being placed in a negative spotlight. It is due to this idolism epidemic that many politicians are no longer afraid of the law as they wield massive public support that ensures they are re-elected into positions of power every election. Unless citizens learn to curb this epidemic, we can expect the same faces to be re-elected as they are worshipped in their constituency regardless of whether they actually made a positive contribution to the country.
Kage is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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