MARIAM MOKHTAR laments the message we appear to be sending to younger Malaysians – that we can beat and torture people and, later, be rewarded with important roles.
We have all done some horrid things and, for some of us, these events return to haunt us.
This has happened to the former IGP, Rahim Noor, who dismissed the incident, which occurred in 1998, when he punched the former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, and gave him a black eye.
Anwar had just been sacked by PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad and was in prison when Rahim assaulted him. The former DPM was then left bleeding and handcuffed, without receiving any medical attention, for days.
Last week, Rahim was appointed the southern Thailand peace process facilitator.
This prompted a number of politicians, including Anwar’s daughter, the MP Nurul Izzah, and some members of the general public to object to his appointment.
Rahim brushed aside their concerns and said that his appointment had nothing to do with the “black-eye incident” and he said the “past was the past”.
Is Rahim aware of how his image is being projected across the nation? He may have been the IGP, at the time of the incident, but he sounds like an insecure, callous bully, who has shown no tinge of remorse.
His experience in dealing with border issues, as well as national security, and the fact that he was instrumental in finalising the peace talks with the Communist Party of Malaysia, is, without doubt, invaluable; but the rakyat thinks that a younger and more capable Malaysian should assume the role.
Is the generation which came after Mahathir incapable? We have recycled the nonagenarian to rescue Malaysia from the clutches of a kleptocrat. Do we now have to recycle other former leaders and place them in important roles in nation building?
Shouldn’t Rahim be kept in retirement? Why can’t younger men be encouraged to learn and grow into the role which was ear-marked for Rahim?
What message are we sending to younger Malaysians? It appears that we can beat and torture people and, later, be rewarded with important roles.
Is the Pakatan Harapan administration so weak-willed that it cannot oppose this appointment? Are they afraid of Dr Mahathir, and so will not oppose him? Do they not see that we are appalled by Pakatan’s insensitivity, and Rahim’s banal statement, “The past is the past”?
Even former bullies are ashamed of their former behaviour, but Rahim shows none of the remorse which most of us would feel.
Is it any wonder that a police force led by men like Rahim should be responsible for an extraordinary number of deaths in custody? Policemen, who see that their boss has no regret for his brutality, will be inured to other brutal assaults, or deaths.
Rahim once abused his authority and had no respect for the rule of law. Today, we are forced to endorse his appointment.
As far as most of us are concerned, Rahim should remain in retirement and someone else should be selected for the important role of peacekeeper in Southern Thailand. – FMT
(Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist and these are her personal views.)