Waffles and drivels after a prickly durian feast

Yesterday, Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat Rashid Hasnon joined the ranks and became a member of the exclusive group of VVIPs who breached provisions of the movement control order (MCO).

He was not exactly caught with his pants down but literally with his mask off after he made a trip to a dusun durian (durian orchard) with his rombongan (entourage). He then made a futile attempt at justifying that wrongdoing – a prerequisite for joining this elite group.

After doggedly claiming the video of him and his coterie feasting on durians was made before the MCO last year, he was caught out by amateur sleuths.

Grudgingly, Rashid (above) admitted to attending a durian feast recently but not before several doses of unpalatable excuses.

“I apologise for the confusion. When the media contacted me to ask about the video of me at the (durian) orchard, I answered without seeing the video first,” he said in his apology note.

Like many other politicians, it comes with an apology and an offer to cooperate and, of course, a reason for the breach which should be taken with a generous amount of salt.

In what appears to be a qualified confession-cum-apology-cum-remorse, it started with a bang – shoot from the hip first and worry about the consequences later.

The “I did not do it” was initially used by his aides but as evidence emerged with the video clip being analysed frame-by-frame, the denial no longer held water. Running away from the truth became a mission impossible.

Like minister Mustapha Mohamed who was checking out the menu in a restaurant in Jeli, our deputy speaker claimed he was doing likewise. He had visited an orchard that was facing difficulties during this current MCO.

But the untouchable number one is Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali who went to Turkey on a holiday. His party leaders claimed that his lawatan sambal belajar (visit and learn) resulted in RM82 billion Turkish investments in Malaysia.

Rashid said: “Once I arrived at the orchard, its owner served durians to us. I ate a bit while discussing with the orchard owner about aid measures that can be given.”

Yes, there are connoisseurs of crustaceans among the ranks of our wakil rakyat or even ministers who would love to go back to their favourite restaurant to discuss the owner’s problems over a lobster thermidor meal. There are also many who can claim to be in watering holes to provide (unsolicited) advice over a tipple.

But how long will such charades go on? While ordinary folk are asked to stay home and not to leave the house unless absolutely necessary, those with YB affixes to their name seem to (mis)use their position and rank for personal gain. The SOPs are wantonly breached.

We are ready to call his bluff. If indeed there was a need for discussion with the orchard owner, why a rombongan for the durian feast? Were they there in their capacity as “durian tasters”?

What will happen next? The whole situation can be read like a book. The police will open investigation papers, submit them to the Attorney General’s Chambers, and, in all probabilities, a paltry fine for selected members of the entourage.

In a previous column, I remarked: “The disparity and the methodology used in the quantum (of fines), especially for VIPs, compared with Joe Public is apparent. Certainly, there needs to be some rules or guidelines so that there is uniformity, irrespective of the offender’s status.

“No one is above the law is an over-used cliche. But it is a highly accepted principle in law that those in office should be held to a higher standard of compliance.

“Then, shouldn’t the offending VIPs get the full brunt of the law instead of a slap on the wrist?”

I would like to propose Rashid be prosecuted in a court of law, just like kindergarten teacher Lisa Christina. I am sure many like-minded Malaysians would support this. The magistrate would certainly be interested in hearing his side of the story.

By the way, can he continue to preside over proceedings in the Dewan Rakyat when it sits again? My humble opinion: Mr Deputy Speaker, you have lost all moral authority to sit on that chair or even preside over a village court or tribunal.

R NADESWARAN says the fines imposed on VVIPs are not a deterrent and some continue to treat the MCO with utter contempt. Comments: citizen.nades22@gmail.com.

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This article first appeared on Malaysiakini