The attempt to humiliate members of the legal fraternity, including Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum and Attorney-General Tommy Thomas for dancing on stage at the Sabah Law Society’s 2019 gala dinner seems to have fizzled out.
The video, which showed many dancing to the tune of ‘Let’s Twist Again’ by Chubby Checker, went viral last week, with opposition politicians calling on those involved to resign over alleged conflict of interest and for tarnishing the image of the judiciary.
However, many people, including legal associations, have refuted any suggestion of misconduct at the private event.
Eddin Khoo, founder of Pusaka, a cultural organisation, described the attempt to use the video to shame members of the legal fraternity as “cheap shot politics”.
“This practice of dancing and socialising at a social legal event has been around for decades.
“I don’t like the idea that viewing people dancing as an immoral activity,” he told The Star.
He said while Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin talked about separation of powers, the country’s judiciary was mature enough to understand the “boundary of its personal relationship”.
“This is an event organised by a legal fraternity. I don’t see what the problem is,” he said, calling on relevant parties not to go low by playing “cheap politics”.
Social media expert Danny Gnaniah echoed Khoo’s statement, pointing out that this was a cheap shot by the opposition.
“However, I think Malaysians are mature enough based on the response on social media towards these petty issues. Kudos to Malaysians!” he said.
Danny said he was puzzled and his mind was “blown” that there were parties who were “busy politicising the dance” instead of tackling real issues that mattered to Malaysians.
He said some politicians might continue to use such tactics to gain political mileage. He said this was illustrated by how former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was gaining popularity on social media by making sarcastic remarks.
“I see this trend getting worse as days go by.
“You may get some mileage and support, but please, focus on the real issues at hand,” he said.
On social media, many reacted by pointing out that it was a fun video.
On Facebook, Nina Aziz expressed her approval of the dancing in the video: “Love it, they are human and deserve to chill and have fun just like others. Good for their health.”
Twitter user @SJeyaku86458193 said it was “nice and cool” to see legal eagles dancing to the twist and letting their hair down.
“To say that this is unethical is ridiculous. Don’t expect to live in a cave like monks. They need socialising too. Critics should get a grip. Let’s do the Twist again!” said the tweet.
Trishapreet Kaur, who tweets at @trishyishy, said Thomas was “looking hella cute with those moves”, while @FirdausAzil said: “That dance by Chief Justice and AG, cute tho. Hit that floor sir!”
Meanwhile, on critics comparing the recent dancing with that of former A-G Apandi Ali cavorting with Barisan Nasional ministers, Finance Twitter blog pointed out several differences between the two incidents.
Closed-door, industry event
Malanjum and Thomas let their hair down during a legal gala, an event organised by the Sabah Law Society at the Magellan Sutera Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The event was meant for the legal community, not politicians, and it was held behind closed doors.
Liew Vui Keong was there in his capacity as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of law.
Activists Ambiga and Siti Kasim were there, but they are also prominent lawyers.
In short, the event was attended by mostly lawyers, the same way a Cloud Computing seminar organised by IBM being attended by IT people.
In the Apandi Ali incident in 2016, he was dancing with five ministers – Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Salleh Said Keruak, Maximus Ongkili, Azalina Othman Said and Nancy Shukri – all of whom were politicians and part of the previous BN government.
The event was a Merdeka Day parade at Dataran Merdeka, held in open air and had nothing to do with lawyers.
When Malanjum and Thomas went on stage for the dance, the former wore a suit while the latter sported a white shirt. Their dress code means they attended the dinner sincerely – even professionally – to have fun without any bias or tendency towards certain political parties.
Apandi Ali, on the other hand, was caught singing and dancing wearing the same uniform as the ministers under Najib administration. You would typically wear a sponsored uniform either to promote certain branding, agree wholeheartedly with the products, or are part of the organisation.
Apandi Ali happily danced with a bunch of “corrupted ministers” after he cleared the scandal-plagued Najib of any wrongdoing over the infamous RM681 million (RM2.6 billion) found in his personal bank accounts.
Neither Malanjum nor Thomas did what Apandi Ali had done.
Not only did Apandi Ali “lie that the stolen money was a donation from the Saudi royal family, which has proven to be false as admitted by Najib himself when he made a U-turn during an interview with Al-Jazeera’s reporter Mary Ann Jolley, the former A-G had also refused to cooperate with Switzerland and the US authorities in the 1MDB investigation.
Not political party members
Malanjum and Thomas are not members of any political parties, hence the assurance of their neutrality and professionalism.
The same, however, cannot be said about Apandi Ali, who has admitted his membership in UMNO from 1982 to 1991.
After he was fired by PM Mahathir, Apandi was appointed an UMNO supreme council member last year.
The blog concluded that to even suggest the similarity between the Apandi Ali and Thomas dancing incidents goes to show how the previous regime had blatantly used the judiciary system to cover up their corruptions.