Mariam to Zulkifli: There is no such thing as a free lunch!

WHAT does the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, think he’s doing?

He and his entourage enjoyed a fully sponsored trip to Saudi Arabia on a private jet. He was invited by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which is funded by the Saudi government. This is how corruption begins – the small favours.

With Malaysian politicians and cronies, corruption starts with the lunch in fancy settings. This then leads to other abuses – power, contracts, tenders, material goods, cheating, theft, and in time, national security perhaps.

In response to a tweet, about the cost of his charter flight to Madinah, Zukifli said, “Everything is sponsored because of the good relationship between both countries.”

A press release on April 9 stated that the working visit would cover bilateral talks on the haj and umrah pilgrimages, regional and international issues regarding Islamic affairs.

This raises the following questions:

  1. Is Zulkifli so naive and does not know that there is no such thing as a free lunch? The Saudis will entice him with proposals which are advantageous to them. After this trip, Zulkifli will feel obliged and cannot decline their requests.
  2. If the trip is to discuss about Haj matters, what is wrong with Zoom?
  3. The Saudi government murdered one of their most vocal critics, the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Why is Zulkifli not minimising contact with this evil government?
  4. What happens if the Saudis want to open more wasabi (a hot and fiery condiment) indoctrination schools in Malaysia to spread their warped Islamic teachings which preach hatred, intolerance and extremism. They claim to fund the building of mosques, but in reality, these hate schools are part of the unspoken equation. Will Zulkifli refuse?
  5. Zulkifli has given a very poor impression of Malaysian Muslims, especially those who are in power. Malaysians, including Muslims, are suffering during these difficult times. We are told to tighten our belts, but Zulkilfli did not have the presence of mind to refuse the visit and show empathy with his fellow Malaysians. The response of his fellow air passengers, gawping at the expense and luxury of the corporate jet is most embarrassing.
  6. Malaysia has its own Special Envoy to the Middle East – Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang Hadi Awang. What is he doing? Does the Malaysian Government have so much money to pay someone who does no work?
  7. Ditto for regional and international Islamic affairs. Sack Hadi for not performing and receiving wages which are better used to feed and house the people who are suffering in this pandemic.
  8. Does Zukifili not know that as a politician and minister, his acceptance of this “donation”, in this case, in the form of the paid trip and free holiday, is wrong?  It opens himself to abuse and more corruption.
  9. Who are his advisors? Did they go on the trip too? Is this their chance to make hay while the sun shines?
  10. Despite his Islamic credentials, Zulkifli has shown that he is as bad as his Umno-Baru, PAS and PN counterparts. All are open to abuse. What will Malaysia have to give in return for this sponsorship?

By : Mariam Mokhtar (a socio-political commentator) – FMT

*The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Stringer.

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