Leave the kids out of this

Justin Ong News Editor
Zahid’s daughter, Datuk Nurulhidayah Ahmad Zahid, posted a video of her daughter on Instagram Friday. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

COMMENTARY, Oct 22 — There is a video of Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s granddaughter circulating online, in which she criticises — I believe — the prosecution of the Umno president.

While attention is turning to the toxic, bullying online response to the video — a subject for another day — I think it more prudent to consider what type of person saw fit to make the nine-year-old post such a message.

I would like to believe the eloquently-delivered remarks are the young girl’s own, but it looks suspiciously like she was reading from a prepared statement or at least some cue card.

If it is the former, then bravo. Malaysia would be blessed to have her in its future. At nine, she is already more polished than many adults I know. (Yet even then, a soupçon of sense would have convinced any supervising adult to congratulate her and keep the video private.)

However, if it is the latter, then you must wonder what went through the mind of the adult — if indeed an adult came up with this hare-brained scheme — that the person decided it was a good idea to make a prepubescent girl issue a sinister message to what I must presume are the authorities.

Let’s leave aside the fact that Zahid and the rest of Umno/Barisan Nasional have repeatedly affirmed the independence of the country’s judicial system. Since they so clearly believe in this, then let the prosecutions run their course.

What was the “adult” thinking when they chose to expose the young girl to the vitriol that could have been anticipated even before they clicked on the Instagram icon on their phone?

If it is to draw out the poisonous online trolls and commenters, you didn’t need to put a girl in harm’s way to do that.

Yes, harm’s way. If you are fortunate, ugly comments will be the worst of it. I don’t even want to think of what other detestable things people will do with it.

She may not see it now, but one day she will. And then she will think that large swathes of Malaysia hate her for making a video defending her grandfather.

She will read the unspeakable things that many have already written about her and her family and the many more that are still being hammered into keyboards now.

Who would wish that on a child, no matter the situation?

And all for what? Some political posturing and false bravado? If that is your best defence and hope, I believe Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has offered to provide a crash course on navigating life in Sungai Buloh.

Politics is a dirty, dirty game and I gag from having to work so closely with so much of this material in my daily work.

This is no place for the faint-hearted and sure as hell not a place for children.

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