I made it very clear there would be no negotiations. How can I agree to bribing police officers to get my son off the hook after speaking out against crime, corruption, abuse of power and cover-ups of criminal acts by those who walk in the corridors of power?
NO HOLDS BARRED
I offer no excuses. My wife, Marina, and I have five children, all now grown up. Four have made a life for themselves -- two are now married and have blessed us with four grandchildren. One, Raja Azman, left home when he was still in lower secondary school and chose to end all ties with the family. That was about 18 years ago or so.
Since he left home, he has been in and out of trouble, the result of living on the streets and sleeping in the back alleys of Kuala Lumpur. Invariably, life on the streets like an urchin turned him into what he is today.
Muslims believe that heaven lies beneath the feet of one’s mother. It is therefore seldom a Muslim mother would bring herself to curse her offspring. Doing so would condemn that child for eternity. That is what Muslims believe.
My wife made it very clear to our prodigal son that he turns his back on the family and resorts to a life of crime at his own peril. It does not matter the severity of the crime. Crime is crime whatever it may be, big or small. And is it not the tendency that petty criminals eventually migrate to hardcore crimes? He therefore invites his mother’s curse if he brings shame to the family. That was my wife’s final word on the matter.
Our son was warned that if he ever got into trouble he was entirely on his own. He can’t expect the family that he has disowned to rally to his side. He has made his bed so he must now lie in it. That was our irrevocable and uncompromising stand and this was delivered in no uncertainty to our son. He would have to make the decision as to what it was going to be.
Marina and I received a phone call a couple of months ago that our son, yet again, was in trouble. It was a call from a police officer. The phone was passed to our son so that we could be assured he was in the hands of the police. Although it was a huge disappointment to both of us, it was no shock, neither a surprise. This was yet another brush with the law that our son has got himself into over more than a decade.
The purpose for the phone call became clearer after our son handed the phone back to the police officer. They wanted to negotiate a settlement. The problem is small, we were told. This can be settled easily enough. They know we would rather bury this problem than let it become public knowledge. We are, after all, high profile. And bad publicity such as this would not help our image.
I made it very clear there would be no negotiations. How can I agree to bribing police officers to get my son off the hook after speaking out against crime, corruption, abuse of power and cover-ups of criminal acts by those who walk in the corridors of power? Sure, maybe no one would know about it. Once I pay up, the matter will be buried so deep no one would be the wiser. But I would know. My wife would know. My family would know. And the police officers who I had bribed would know.
How can I continue speaking out against what ails this country when I am not able to walk the talk? It is so easy to talk when you have nothing to lose, except maybe your freedom. But when it comes to a member of your family, you compromise your principles and violate the very thing that you speak out against.
When I hung up the phone, I could see the pain in my wife’s heart. After all, are not the eyes the window to the heart? Which mother can abandon a child, never mind how evil that child may be. It takes a very determined woman to put principles before the welfare of the family.
We knew it was with dire consequences that we had turned down the offer to settle the matter. We would be made to pay dearly for our stubbornness. They would make sure that we would suffer shame never before suffered by our family.
My children are devastated. The thought of our son having to spend a good part of his life in prison is only part of it. The fact that he carries the family name and that this would be held against the family was their main concern. They knew we would be made to suffer for what Raja Azman had done.
This was a predicament we would never be able to avoid. It would have been so simple to just agree to meet the police officers and pay them the money they wanted and all would have been settled. But it would have been settled only for that short moment in time. I would have to carry the knowledge that I sold out my principles and was not able to walk the talk for the rest of my life.
How can I continue doing what I am doing knowing that I am not able to practice what I preach? I would lose the moral high ground and would no longer be qualified to talk about change and about a better Malaysia. I am, after all, as corrupted as those people who walk in the corridors of power. My son may walk free. But I shall be taking his place in prison -- not a physical prison, but a prisoner of my own nagging conscience, which will haunt me till my last day on earth.
As a father, it was a most difficult choice I had to make. It was more difficult for Marina, the mother who gave birth to that son. We held each other’s hands and looked each other in the eye without speaking. Words were unnecessary. In that silence our hearts did all the talking. We knew we had to bite the bullet and face whatever lies ahead of us without wavering.
Marina and I apologise to the nation for what our son has done. As parents, Marina and I accept that responsibility.