In our country, under the generally out-dated and archaic political culture that the majority of our politicians still cling onto, public expression of personal values are not allowed. For this reason, the voters and the public cannot know for sure what values each of them have. For this reason also, the kind of values that are being presented by political parties seem very superficial and artificial, some of which sound like they have been created by some political strategists or image consultants.
We have heard many times, some of our political leaders utter the term"Asian values" and then only to forget about it completely until another political occasion requires it. There had also been situations where "Asian values" had been manipulated by shameful politicians to sneakily justify oppression, especially denial of basic human rights.
Likewise, the term "Islam" and "Islamic values" have been subjected to tremendous abuse, manipulation and trickery by politicians purely for political purposes with total disregard to the sanctity and right to personal faith. In this regard, quite a number of paid clerics and religious "gurus" shamefully abet their political masters in the manipulation and abuse. This manipulation and abuse of the term "Islam" and "Islamic values" becomes easy for the politicians because they are either backed by mass supporters or by the very culture in our country that has allowed the politicisation of Islam.
Terms like "Islam" and "Islamic values" have often been abused to condone denial of basic human rights, oppression and denial of women's rights. The voice that pleads that Islam upholds human rights, women's rights and abhors oppression of any sort is drowned by the smooth operation of the politicians and the shouts of their abettors - the paid clerics and the paid mobs.
Islam has become so politicised in the country such that the right and duty of the individual Muslim to practice his faith as he understands it has been taken away by the politicians in this country. Any cleric or scholar or thinker that denounces this control of faith is either pushed into oblivion or equally oppressed in ways that are possible. Alternative views are not only not allowed but often shout down by supporters organised and approved by hidden hands from above.
So, in the scenario of artificiality, superficiality and hypocrisy that has become part of our political culture, what are the values that these politicians hold? Don't you or the voters want to know or has the time not come yet in Malaysia to understand the impact of this question?
I look at both the Pakatan and the BN political parties and when I critically assess them, I am unable to determine with certainty what positive and encouraging values they represent. Often times, they all seem to say one thing today and another the next. Often times, their general behaviour is not consistent with the rare fine speeches they make. More often, their speeches frighten me to think that those are the values they represent.
DO they respect basic human rights?
Do they even respect the dignity of a human being? Do they understand what "dignity" is?
I do not know because I do not really know what values they actually hold.