– A Malaysian
The Malaysian Insider
February 13, 2014
Some weeks ago, over a glass of wine, my friend told me excitedly that she was pitching for a government-linked project and when I asked how sure she was at getting it, she sounded confident.
A few days ago I bumped into her and asked how the progress was, she sadly told me that she had chosen to withdraw because someone who had the power to make the decision wanted something in return for awarding her the project.
Being a Christian, her conscience wouldn’t let the greed of another person get the better of her. Was I surprised? Like many Malaysians, I was not surprised that people asked for kickbacks.
However, upon further introspection, I was more surprised at the fact that I was not surprised that someone had asked for monetary favours in return for awarding a project. This seems to be the Malaysian way – corrupt, uncaring, unjust, insensitive, lack of transparency and unaccountable.
Today, we are bogged down with so many issues that to me camouflage the real issue at hand… what are we becoming? Almost every day our media is filled with issues of racial division and hatred that seems to be escalating.
From cow head delivery to chicken blood smearing, from effigy burning to reward for slapping, from buttock dancing to Molotov cocktails… where are we heading as a nation? There are so many “real issues” that those in authority do not want to address.
Corruption is so widespread that people don’t even blink an eyelid to offer a bribe. There was a time when people used the term “under the table money” but today it is no longer so. Money and favours are exchanged openly and “over the table”. Do we need evidence?
Recently, I saw that someone had posted a video on Facebook of an official taking bribe for a traffic offence. Talk to your friends who are renovating homes and they will tell you that the contractor has already included “tips” in his costing, ask stall owners who are trying to make a living and they will tell you that they are often visited by “officers”. Just put your ears to the ground and the evidence will overwhelm you.
Drive through the city and notice the number of people who commit traffic offences… it is truly amazing. Bus drivers think they are Sebastian Vettel. Traffic lights are but beautiful ornaments in the city because many people have no regard for them. Pedestrians fear for their lives when crossing at zebra crossings, irresponsible parking, unscrupulous taxi drivers who refuse to use the meter, using the mobile phone while driving and the list goes on.
Why are people so brave to break these laws? It is simply because most of them know that when caught, a mere RM50 (more or less) can “selesai” the matter. So they continue to flout the law without any remorse until some major bus accident takes place for the authorities to pretend to want to take action.
Try explaining to someone who has lost a loved one that the cause of the accident was due to a faulty break. Aren’t public vehicles supposed to undergo inspection periodically? I am told that these too can be agreed on a “handshake”.
Billions are spent (and wasted as exposed by the Auditor General) in the name of development but are we becoming a developed nation? Every day many Malaysians live in fear – fear of being robbed, fear of being a snatch theft victim, fear of abduction, fear of walking to the car park, fear of hurting someone’s sensitivity. I am tired of being afraid.
Officials unashamedly announce to the public that the crime rate has dropped but we know from experience that it is not true because many of us have become part of the statistics that often go unreported.
House owners have to fork out money to engage neighbourhood security guards, install sophisticated alarm systems and cameras and our houses are looking more and more like “Big Brother” homes.
Walking down the street, even in one’s own neighbourhood, with children can be a traumatic experience. Neighbourhood public parks are deserted and rotting because parents fear for their children. We are becoming prisoners in our homes.
But yet try going to a police station to lodge a report that you have been a snatch theft victim, the “mata-mata” has not even an ounce of compassion and will probably give you a lecture as to why you should not be walking on the streets alone. When will there be action? Only when someone dies after either being dragged on the street (or a head knocked against the culvert?).
Promise for sterner action will last for a couple of weeks and then life is back to where it had been before… back to being prisoners of fear. Even the migrant worker is fearful that his daily wage will be snatched away by the very people who are supposed to be patrolling the streets and protecting us.
These are only but the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other issues that those in authority either don’t have the political will to act or the interest as long as they get to enjoy their luxury cars and dress themselves in Armani’s or Christian Dior’s.
Furthermore, they seem only to be interested in staying in power and will do everything to remain in power including dividing the “rakyat”.
Our leaders spend most of their energy in character assassinating the opposition in public that they have no time to work on nation building. They don’t seem interested in leaving behind a legacy for future generations to appreciate and remember them with fondness. In the meantime, Malaysia is becoming a decadent society.
Like many other countries, Malaysia is not a perfect state but what is worrying is that there seems to be neither any indication nor the will to work towards it.
The way our nation is moving, in time to come, we can engrave on our tombstones, “Here lies a Malaysian, truly corrupt, uncaring, unjust, insensitive, lacked transparency and unaccountable. RIP”. – February 13, 2014.