A key characteristic of a state of emergency is that there is no time for nonsense and time-wasters.
So when the virus emergency was declared in January to contain the pandemic, we instantly prioritised our focus, from politics and democratic rhetoric to the real job of fighting an invisible enemy that has so far snatched away more than 2,000 loved ones from families in Malaysia.
Today, the clutter of voices, from a scandal-tainted former prime minister talking about good governance to a wannabe prime minister talking about justice, has been drowned out by measures to contain the pandemic. For only these actions can justify the need to suspend the divine status some of us have given to the concept of democracy.
In a war, many things become a luxury we cannot afford.
The same goes when a tragedy occurs involving matters of life and death. There is zero space for nonsense and side shows.
When more than 200 people were injured, many of them critically, in an LRT accident two days ago, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin wasted no time calling for a full investigation.
“I take this accident seriously and have instructed the transport ministry and Prasarana Malaysia Bhd to conduct a full investigation to identify the cause of the accident, and firm action should be taken immediately,” he said.
But the man who should have been the first to make a statement – the chairman of Prasarana, Tajuddin Abdul Rahman – was not only late in his response but displayed an utter disdain for human decency at a press conference yesterday.
Among others, he was seen mocking a foreign journalist and making a silly joke about two trains “kissing”.
In any civilised country, even without these thoughtless remarks, he would have offered his resignation.
One can imagine the embarassment felt by the management of Prasarana and its thousands of workers – those who really work hard every day to ensure the safety of millions of passengers – at having someone like Tajuddin at the top.
Any officer who has had to provide answers to the public on the LRT collision would cringe at the video clips of Tajuddin’s press conference which are making the rounds on social media, to the horror of Malaysians.
Tajuddin is clearly a liability, not only to Prasarana but also to the government which appointed him to the chairman’s post.
More importantly, he is a liability to any attempt at convincing the public that such an incident will not occur again.
The emergency gives Muhyiddin the opportunity to correct the mistake of appointing this man, without any disruption to the administration during these trying times.
Tajuddin is among the Umno MPs aligned with Najib Razak who have been making so much noise against Muhyiddin. Yet, he was not removed.
Now, it is time to remove Tajuddin Abdul Rahman for all the right reasons, and show affected passengers as well as the millions of Malaysians that the government is indeed Prihatin.
Abdar Rahman Koya is CEO & editor of MalaysiaNow.