At Sanusi’s funeral, Rais Yatim laments Malay politicians’ lost grace

By Azril Annuar
Tan Sri Rais Yatim (left) and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin attend the late Tan Sri Sanusi Junid's funeral at Masjid Saidina Umar Al Khatab in Kuala Lumpur March 9, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 ― The nation's socio-cultural adviser Tan Sri Rais Yatim has reminded political leaders, especially the Malays, to be more courteous and respectful when addressing rivals.

Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of Tan Sri Sanusi Junid's funeral today, Rais observed that political courtesy is non-existent and worse, some politicians would sever ties of personal friendship while prioritising political allegience.

“What I see now is courtesy and politeness in the political arena is gone. I see that when some politicians have gained position and popularity they think they can just sever ties of friendship, stop being courteous, respectful and stop using polite language,” he said, referring to politicians.

Rais then explained that he has observed political leaders using Malay insults like “kurang ajar”, “kepala otak” and more which runs contrary to traditional Malay ethics and courtesy, known as “budi”.

He added that from a cultural and traditional standpoint, a Malay is not considered a Malay if he lacks “budi” which is a part of the Malay traditions.

The former Cabinet minister said he believes it is time such values and culture are inculcated among political leaders once again.

Rais then recalled his friendship with the late Sanusi, particularly during their most tumultuous years as friends when Sanusi was then Umno secretary-general while Rais was with the Opposition as deputy president for splinter party Semangat 46.

“You can imagine how we had to carry on throughout the conflict. But being a gentleman that he was, we did not lose our friendship. So, one lesson to be learned from that is, whatever the differences in politics, the friendship per se between individuals should not be disrupted.

“That's what I learned by being his friend and perhaps he learned the same lesson with me as his friend. Those are the sweet things about Sanusi,” Rais recalled.

He wondered aloud whether Malay youths, especially those in Umno Youth have forgotten the third clause of the party constitution which speaks of Malay culture, apart from developing Malay economy and uniting the various ethnicities.

“We need to remember that while we fight for the Malay cause, we must develop our courtesy. Otherwise we will be worse than and beneath non-Muslims.

“I believe that Umno, Pakatan Harapan or PAS must put aside their political difference on this and be together in a courteous and polite environment,” Rais said, voicing his confidence that the damage is not irreversible.