Sleaze and crime – cleaning up?

Sleaze saps the prime minister’s election prospects
The Economist
22nd March 2007

CHEERY statements on the economy by Malaysian ministers and the pro-government press are prompting speculation that the prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, will call an election this year, even though he need not do so until 2009. The economy is doing fairly well–although economists think growth will be perhaps 5.5% this year, not 6% as the government predicts. However, hanging over Mr Badawi is his failure to keep his promise to curb official corruption. Two surveys out this month suggest that little progress is being made on this front. Worse, some big sleaze scandals have broken, suggesting that the rot reaches close to the top.

The man who is supposed to lead the clean-up, Zulkipli Mat Noor, the head of the country’s Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), has himself been accused of illicit enrichment by a former underling. In a separate case, a deputy police minister is accused of taking bribes to set criminal suspects free. Mr Badawi has rejected calls to suspend the two officials while the allegations, which both deny, are investigated.

If all this were not disturbing enough, a gruesome murder case involving a government adviser, due in court in June, may prove even more incendiary. Two members of an elite police unit are accused of killing a Mongolian fashion model, whose corpse was apparently blown up with explosives. Abdul Razak Baginda, a political analyst, is accused of abetting them. Mr Razak Baginda is close to Mr Badawi’s deputy as prime minister, Najib Razak, who also oversees the police unit in question. Though Mr Najib has not been accused of any wrongdoing, there is speculation that the trial could force his resignation.

It is widely believed that Mr Badawi doubts his deputy’s loyalty, and many observers think he might not be too downcast to see a potential challenger brought down. None of the present rash of scandals has cast doubt on Mr Badawi’s own integrity. Even so, the rising tide of sleaze seems likely to leave a permanent stain on his reputation as a reformer.

A survey this month by PERC, a Hong Kong-based consultancy, shows that while some neighbouring countries–Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines but not squeaky-clean Singapore–are seen as even more graft-ridden, corruption is perceived to have worsened in Malaysia since last year. The prime minister has brushed such fears aside, insisting that 85% of corruption allegations prove baseless. But in truth few are properly investigated, and even when cases do reach court, proceedings can drag on for years. Mohamad Ramli Manan, the ACA inspector making accusations against his boss, has also alleged that he was earlier sidelined for refusing to drop a case against a former cabinet minister, Kasitah Gaddam, whose corruption trial has rolled on for two years.

A survey this month by Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog, hinted at one explanation why so few cases are cleared. It showed that both the public and businessmen see the police as by far the most corrupted institution (see chart). From business’s point of view, only political parties come close (though the public, which should presumably reap the benefits, has not noticed). Reforming the police is another of Mr Badawi’s broken promises. Two years ago, a royal commission he set up called for an independent police-complaints body. But the force’s chiefs objected. So far they have had their way, despite sharply rising crime–murders increased by 22% last year.

Mr Badawi’s governing coalition has a strong electoral machine, while the opposition remains split between Islamists and secularists. So Mr Badawi is most unlikely to lose the election, whenever he calls it. His main threat is from plotters on his own benches, who might be tempted to move against him if public anger at sleaze and crime deprives him of the big majority he won in the last election, in 2004.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Friday, 30 March 2007 - 7:28 pm

    Malaysia’s Deputy Premier Najib in Trouble?
    In January, Najib reportedly flew to London to attempt to meet with Mahathir Mohamad, the octogenarian former prime minister who still carries considerable clout inside UMNO, in an attempt to shore up his support.Mahathir reportedly declined to see him. In particular Najib has been wounded by speculation of his involvement, however peripheral, in the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, the 28 year-old Mongolian beauty whose body was found in a patch of jungle outside a Kuala Lumpur on October 20,2006.

  2. #2 by thearmchairbitch on Saturday, 31 March 2007 - 12:13 am

    Few thoughts spring to mind…

    Do you remember the slew of big guns being hauled to court one by one soon after Abdullah came to power? (By ‘slew’, I mean a token handful). What has happened to their cases? All seems quiet now – no news of any trials nor convictions…Sigh!

    Then there is the case of that Melaka UMNO assemblyman involved in getting customs dept to let off his company over some timber shipment.. He still gets to keep his seat in the state assembly.. shameful!

  3. #3 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Saturday, 31 March 2007 - 7:23 am

    This is the kind of damaging international publicity that is going to hammer Malaysia’s credibility and attractiveness as a destination for tourism, FDI and everyhting else that really matters. And to think that what ECONOMIST has written is only the tip of Malaysia’s woes; the greater part stays hidden from public view by a press that is so muzzled and for so long so cowed that journalists are mere mouthpieces for the establishment.

    But as long as the ‘BAnyak Nonsense’ BN Coalition stays in power and continues to pour out such refuse, the world is going to turn away its face and run the other way.

    The ONLY (and I repeat ONLY) way for Malaysia to begin the healing process and the arduous climb to sanity and progress is for the people of this nation of promise to pull BN by its roots and incinerate the whole diseased plant – roots, stump and all, at Broga or some funeral pyre! We have to give BN a decent burial at the next GE. PERIOD.

  4. #4 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Saturday, 31 March 2007 - 7:29 am

    Looks like AAB has already prepared a retirement home for himself once BN is routed in the next GE!

    30/03: Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s RM60 million home in Perth
    Category: General Posted by: Raja Petra
    Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has a RM60 million home in Perth, Australia.

    Extract of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s speech in Kulai, Johor, on 29 March 2007 (VIDEO BEST VIEWED WITH BROADBAND)

    According to what Malaysia Today found out, the home is in the exclusive and expensive residential area of Mosman Park, overlooking the serene Swan River, and close to the St Hilda’s Anglican high-class all-girls school.

    Mosman Park, Western Australia

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 31 March 2007 - 9:12 am

    I disagree that AAB could be threatened within his own party. The disgruntled within UMNO and BN are highly fragmented. They are disatisfied with the mediocrity but they offer no answer either and are guilty of the same mediocrity.

    AAB is not in danger from his own party but what it means is that he lack the political capital to move a strong agenda. This is perhaps even worst because it leaves many issue undecided and old issues of divisiveness, economic and education programs are rehash again and again over the same ground, while our competition moves forward.

    A few businessmen said to me the other day – Malaysian have no idea what competition is and that is perhaps the greatest danger to all of us..

  6. #6 by lakshy on Saturday, 31 March 2007 - 10:42 am

    AAB is threatened from within by TPM and the Keris man team. Theya re related and would not want to see AAB’s SIL gaining strength and overtaking all of them. So they will have to make a move, sooner or later.

    So yes AAB is facing threats from within umno.

    Business is bad, and many traders are affected. It is in order to get the economy going again that mega projects have been revived. And dont worry they have lots of funds to use from EPF which collects 4billion per month and Income tax collections of around 4billion per month. They are in a hurry to use all of these funds before someone gets wise.

  7. #7 by k1980 on Saturday, 31 March 2007 - 12:40 pm

    While lots of malaysians cannot afford homes costing RM60,000, our great leader has got himself a RM60,000,000 house in Perth, in the exclusive and expensive residential area of Mosman Park, overlooking the serene Swan River, and close to the St Hilda’s Anglican high-class all-girls school.

  8. #8 by Loh on Saturday, 31 March 2007 - 7:46 pm

    To be able to own a home of RM 60,000,000, he is a towering Malay. Najib will tell him to aim high, to own one worth 600 million.

  9. #9 by ahkok1982 on Saturday, 31 March 2007 - 8:15 pm

    in e next coming GE, get this dumb ass aab to stand out n declare his assets. if he cowers to do so, then get him to shut up about all e nonsense talk about abolishing corruption. one thing worse than a corrut politician is a corrupt politician who is also a hypocrite. n e worst is a corrupt hypocritic politician who is freaking stupid n spineless.

  10. #10 by k1980 on Saturday, 31 March 2007 - 10:47 pm

    Dr Mahathir is hinting that he will present proof of corruption within government. If convincing evidence emerges, it could be a heavy blow for Abdullah, who is widely seen as one of the cleanest politicians of his generation.

    Sacking people is not the Malaysian way…Badawi’s last campaign against graft flared up just weeks before the 2004 polls and according to critics, quickly died down again afterwards.

  11. #11 by dawsheng on Saturday, 31 March 2007 - 11:36 pm

    In the next GE, Abdullah shouldn’t be around! Is best he vanished from our memories because he’s a nightmare! I magine you are on a plane the the pilot dozed off, and now you are about to crash?

  12. #12 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 1 April 2007 - 12:38 am

    “Dr Mahathir is hinting that he will present proof of corruption within government. If convincing evidence emerges, it could be a heavy blow for Abdullah, who is widely seen as one of the cleanest politicians of his generation.”

    Yes, and my fear is that these two will reach a compromise of sorts in private and at the expense of the nation they serve or served. National interest will somehow be compromised. Mahathir is not interested in anything like the pursuit of justice as he and his family members are as corrupt as the rest.

  13. #13 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 1 April 2007 - 12:41 am

    “While lots of malaysians cannot afford homes costing RM60,000, our great leader has got himself a RM60,000,000 house in Perth, in the exclusive and expensive residential area of Mosman Park, overlooking the serene Swan River, and close to the St Hilda’s Anglican high-class all-girls school.”

    Do you think you could send me the address of this “high class all-girls” school overlooking the Swan River in Perth?

  14. #14 by ihavesomethingtosay on Sunday, 1 April 2007 - 2:30 am

    so much for the guy championing Islam Hadaari……… sigh

  15. #15 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 1 April 2007 - 4:49 am

    k1980 Says:

    March 31st, 2007 at 10:47 pm
    “Dr Mahathir is hinting that he will present proof of corruption within government. If convincing evidence emerges, it could be a heavy blow for Abdullah, who is widely seen as one of the cleanest politicians of his generation.”

    Whoever is the first to expose the corruption and rot in AAB’s administration with tangible proof is going to get a lot of political capital out of this. If Mahathir is looking forward to do this, logically Najib would scurry to do it too (for his own survival).
    Hopefully, Anwar will do it earlier – by exposing the captain (AAB) and deputy captain (NAjib) so that the BN titanic will split into two & sink into its watery grave. Then TDM would not be able to resurrect either. That is the surest way for PKR to establish more than a foothold for the next GE.

    Undergrad2 says:
    “Yes, and my fear is that these two will reach a compromise of sorts in private and at the expense of the nation they serve or served. ”

    Judging by TDM’s track record, I think the only way for a compromise is if AAB agrees to move into his retirement home in Perth permanently and vacate Putrajaya or to agrree to be the ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Malaysia must never trust TDM or any other successor that he’d like to bring in to replace AAB. Anyone else from TDM would be his minion and a very pliable puppet.

  16. #16 by pulau_sibu on Sunday, 1 April 2007 - 10:02 am

    Police in Sibu not doing their job, says backbencher
    30 Mar 2007
    V. Vasudevan, Anis Ibrahim and R.S. Kamini

    A BACKBENCHER yesterday called for the immediate transfer of the Sarawak police chief, saying that he and his men had failed to maintain public order.

    As a result, gangsters and secret societies were having a field day, particularly in Sibu.

    Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (Bintulu-BN) said police in Sibu were not doing their job and the police chief had not taken any action against them.

    “The secret societies are getting more powerful by the day and even determine the prices of daily essentials like eggs.

    “They also set the price of rubber and force the producers to sell to them only. This is burdening the community,” he said during the debate on the royal address.

    Tiong called on the Internal Security Ministry and the inspector-general of police to look into this.

    He also said there was much room for improvement in the police force.

    He said there were personnel working in the Criminal Investigation Department in Sarawak who did not know the law. “They even asked the complainants which laws they should be using for their cases.”

    Tiong said in another instance, he had gone to the local police station and asked the inspector about a case involving his constituent.

    “I asked him what was the problem and said it was some time since the case was reported. The inspector brushed me aside and said he had too many cases.”

  17. #17 by negarawan on Sunday, 1 April 2007 - 4:28 pm

    More articles like this are needed to be published internationally to expose the crimes of BN and UMNO.

  18. #18 by pulau_sibu on Monday, 2 April 2007 - 12:54 am

    the police headquarter in bukit aman must not be sleeping. the tie between the police and gangsters in sibu must have been in existence since several decades ago, if not close to half a century. if you go to the streets and ask any one, they will be able to tell you what they feel about the gangsters. at any coffee shops or streets, you always see groups of small gangsters. being an economically declined city, no doubt that gangsterism is the most promising profession. the dream of many secondary school boys is to be part of a gangster team, and you feel proud if you know one of them or if you can mention any of their names.

  19. #19 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 2 April 2007 - 5:54 am

    This is a frightening and disconcerting thought that police and criminals can be consenting bedfellows.

    Those with info, please, please, please report directly and personally to CID Chief, DAtuk Christopher Wan. I think Christopher is not the type to close ONE EYE. He has promised to be an effective campaigner against crime. Prayerfully, he doesn’t break down against the avalanche he faces….but Christopher is a helluva tough guy.

    We certainly cannot tolerate a situation where police and criminals share the same pair of socks with each wearing one side and then walking together as comrades in crime. That would be total anarchy! Strange bedfellows with similar garters they must not be.

  20. #20 by DiaperHead on Monday, 2 April 2007 - 6:18 am

    “Consenting bedfellows??

    I don’t agree.

    The only difference is one is in uniform and the other not.

  21. #21 by Godamn Singh on Tuesday, 3 April 2007 - 12:01 am

    Goddamn it!

  22. #22 by pulau_sibu on Tuesday, 3 April 2007 - 8:49 am

    The head of police in Sarawak is a bit naive. He missed the point. he thought gangsters from Sibu need Foochow translaters. But most Foochow in Sibu town consider Hookian as the official town language. They are Foochow, but they speak Hookian. This is an unusual practice in Sibu. Hookian is the gangster language.

    Sibu gangsters also spreaded their wings to Bintulu. Because of that, Datuk Tiong has the element to be concerned about the gangster activities in Sibu.

    鉴定13组织 诗巫最猖狂 警特工队严打黑帮















  23. #23 by pulau_sibu on Tuesday, 3 April 2007 - 11:23 am

    I think Datuk Tiong (and other MPs and YBs from Sibu) should demand an apology from Sarawak police chief who labeled (or indicated) Foochow as gangsters in the interview.

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