Dissent but don’t antagonise: Use of abrasive terms like “lapdog” by Syed Saddiq unwarranted

BY using scalding language on the DAP over the conditional discharge given to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for the corruption charges he faced, MUDA president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman was being unwarrantedly antagonistic.

It is alright to criticise with reasonable cause one another within a ruling coalition provided the language employed is not lacerating.

“Tell the truth but tell it slant,” is the advice given by the poet Emily Dickinson in urging readers to be emollient rather than abrasive when caught in fraught circumstances.

By using the term “lapdog” to describe the DAP’s tepid stance on the discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) that the Kuala Lumpur High Court ranted Zahid earlier this week on the 47 corruption charges he faced, Syed Saddiq was taking criticism to the point of hostility.

Admittedly, it was not easy in the current straits for MUDA to show only mild disagreement with the conditional discharge obtained by Zahid at the courts.

The nature of the proceedings in the case where the judge had held there was a prima facie case for Zahid to answer forestalled niceties by disputants.

Novice politician

Expressing dissent without antagonising companions in the same ruling camp is an art that separates a seasoned politician from rank fellow travellers.

That Syed Saddiq has not acquired the art may be attributable to his relative youth but he has to start soon to do so if he and his cohort intend to carve a niche for MUDA in Malaysian politics.

Words like “lamentable”, “regrettable” and sundry similar terms have to stud his vocabulary before he can resort to the viler terms in the dictionary of dissent to show he agrees.

“Language is the dress of thought,” said Benjamin Disraeli who was the first Jew to become prime minister of Britain after an arduous process of trying to reach the top of the pole as an outsider.

In a sense, MUDA is an outsider trying to get inside of the largely crowded camp of the ruling unity government.

It won’t serve its purpose by hollering whenever it dissents abrasively.

Rather it should phrase its disagreement by verbally tugging at the sleeve of its collaborators in the unity government.

That’s a better way to win their respect and the assent, more importantly, of voters in the longer run. – Sept 8, 2023

Terence Netto is a journalist with 50 years in an occupation that demands resistance to fleeting impressions.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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