THE sacking of former ministers Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and Tun Daim Zainuddin from Umno as well as the investigation into Tan Sri Rais Yatim swiftly made major headlines in the local media. The news was of great interest that even foreign press agencies in various parts of the world have reported on the matter. With Malaysia just days away from heading to the polls any important political decision is likely to pique the public’s interest. In this case, these are very influential Malaysian figures that had once held top government posts during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s era. Thus, their dismissal from Umno would warrant much public and media attention.
Rafidah and Daim’s removal comes just a day after the former appeared for the first time at a Pakatan Harapan event in Melaka. As for Daim, he had already accompanied Dr Mahathir on the campaign trail to several places. One can only imagine that the decision to remove these two veteran Umno politicians was no easy feat. In fact, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor asserted that investigations were made into the two individuals and only after much deliberation with Umno’s Disciplinary Board that the ruling was finally made. Meanwhile investigations into Rais remains ongoing. It was evident that Umno erred on the side of caution given the sensitivity of the matter under the present circumstances. Markedly the move to strip Rafidah and Daim’s party membership was done in line with Umno’s constitution. Both had gone against the party's constitution and code of ethics by campaigning for another coalition.
Politicians like any other normal citizen are entitled to their opinions. Switching one’s party allegiance is in fact a normal thing and happens in other countries too. But the fact of the matter is Rafidah and Daim did not have the courtesy to share with the party their grouses. This would have allowed room for reconciliation. Instead they defied the party by quietly joining the opposition and jumping into the fray. Now both individuals hurl accusations and slanderous remarks against the very party that they had benefited from for years particularly under Dr Mahathir’s tenure.
While campaigning for Pakatan Harapan, Rafidah and Daim steadfastly speak of corruption and a need for change in government. It is no secret that they had amassed wealth, which was perhaps facilitated by their Cabinet status. And the push for change now is just plain hypocrisy. During Dr Mahathir 22 years at the helm he emasculated almost all institutions and not a peep out of either the Iron Lady or the Godfather of Corporate Malaysia. Perhaps there is a need for them to self-reflect. As the saying goes, ‘People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.’