Lewinsky and Clinton (Source images: Public domain)
“I DID not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”
We’ve all seen and heard the parodies of this line after former US President Bill Clinton’s sex scandal in 1998. But that’s not the only sex scandal to have made the headlines. Hasn’t Malaysia seen its own share of scandals worth mentioning?
Let us recall the events of January 2008, when former Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek was recorded on video having sex with a woman he called “a personal friend”.
While I have yet to see the video myself, I managed to get a narration of the proceedings recently at a comedy club. Personally, it’s not my kind of porn.
But why was this scandal so serious? I mean, if Chua wanted to engage in adultery, that’s his personal business, is it not?
Chua was embroiled in his own sex scandal Since he was the health minister at the time, the most relevant question that the media and the cabinet ministers should have asked was whether or not he used a condom. You know, to promote safer sex and all. But that’s just my personal opinion. Let’s move on.
When accused of something that Malaysians found lewd and shocking, what did Chua do?
Well, let’s start by talking about what he didn’t do — he didn’t do a Bill Clinton, that’s for sure. Unlike Clinton, Chua admitted it on the spot. That, in my opinion, shows a politician with integrity, unlike Clinton’s craftiness as seen in his trial before the Senate. However, I’ve yet to ascertain whether or not Clinton used a condom, which is what really matters in this case.
It’s only sedekah
Now let’s fast-forward from January to September 2008.
In another high-profile sex scandal, Perak Tengah district councilor Zul Hassan and businessman Fairul Azrim Ismail both admitted to having sex with Chinese nationals. The two of them were offered these women for sex by a certain Muhammad Imran Abdullah at an apartment in Penang.
I know some folks see an opportunity here for some cheap melamine jokes, but let’s stick to the point. This scandal was truly disturbing — just look at how the (now sacked) district councilor justified his actions. According to The Star: “He had been quoted as saying ‘what is important is we did not ask for the women. He supplied them to us. If people sedekah (donate), don’t you want to accept the sedekah?’”
(© Tea/Dreamstime) I’m still amazed by his superior intellect in disclosing this to an officer from the Anti-Corruption Agency. Thanks to him, I wouldn’t be surprised if every pimp is now lining up to register as a “charitable organisation”. Will the names of Jalan Chow Kit and Lorong Haji Taib be changed to “Charity Drive”?
However the businessman, Fairul Azrim Ismail, who admitted the deed to the Perak religious authorities, is now pleading not guilty and claiming trial.
Obviously the authorities should have dragged him to the nearest mosque, sat him in front of an imam, and made him swear on a Quran. At least then we could all see the video on repeat during another highly charged by-election. And if Fairul has a fiancée, perhaps we could go to her blog and rant about what an arrogant jerk her future hubby is.
But seriously, folks, has anyone noticed something significant about some of the men involved in these scandals? In my estimation, some of them were pretty good leaders.
Clinton managed to undo the deficit left behind by his predecessor, George Bush Sr, and create a surplus. Robert and John F Kennedy both had affairs with Marilyn Monroe, yet both were brilliant, passionate politicians. Who knows, if they had lived longer, perhaps they could have made an even bigger impact in bringing equal rights to African Americans.
Tunku Abdul Rahman (Public domain) Rumours abound that our own first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman was a playboy, a gambler and a drinker. He was a man who took his old landlady, Violet Coulson, as a second wife, only to be told afterwards by the Regent of Kedah to divorce her. Yet, he was also the leader who fought for Malaya’s independence, and managed to somehow unite the people of Malaya to fight the good fight. And incredibly, he was made the first Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
Everyone makes mistakes
My point is this: everyone has their faults and weaknesses, even politicians. There is no such thing as a perfect, flawless leader. Lest we forget, some even became power-crazy over the course of 22 years, abusing the Internal Security Act (ISA) to cut down alleged lalang. Some flew to Australia to open a nasi kandar shop while Johor was flood-stricken.
Outside Malaysia, some leaders of a certain superpower saw imaginary weapons of mass destruction and launched a war based on these visions. In October 2008, fewer than six years after the war was announced, the country’s national debt exceeded US$10 trillion.
But how many of these leaders had the integrity and honesty to admit their mistakes publicly? These are mistakes that actually caused detriment to the public interest. These were not moral indiscretions of a personal nature. Some moral indiscretions do involve an abuse of power and position, but shouldn’t these abuses be the real benchmark for the rakyat to gauge a leader’s worth?
Are there any politicians out there who can be confident that their personal lives will not be spotlighted, that they will be judged solely by their political integrity?
Ahmad Hafidz Baharom is a paradox. He’s an anti-smoking chain smoker, an environmentalist who leaves his office lights on, a centrist who’s a lalang, and a twentysomething yuppie who dreams of being a slacker. Basically, he’s a lovable moron.