Now every crook can fight corruption

by Tunku Aziz
The Malaysian Insider
1st April 2011

April 01, 2011APRIL 1 — In late 2006 as I was completing my term of office as a Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in New York, I received an unexpected invitation to deliver a speech at an anti-corruption conference in Jerusalem, Israel. It was an important gathering of academics, senior government officials and NGO luminaries.

The president of Israel, Moshe Katsav, the guest of honour, made a stirring speech about the evils of corruption, enjoining us all to fight it in our society.

Even as he was extolling the virtues of integrity in personal and public life, the police were crawling all over the presidential mansion rummaging through documents as part of an investigation into multiple allegations of rape and sexual harassment by several members of his female staff, over an extended period of time going back to when he was the tourism minister. He was finally sentenced to seven years in prison last week by a Tel Aviv District Court.

I mention all this for two reasons. The first is that I have never known any president, prime minister, chief minister or even a garden variety politician, however corrupt he is known to be, opposing measures to fight corruption. Many are so sincere and convincing that you think a new corruption-free dawn is about to break.

In our case, we have political leaders swearing blind that corruption is evil. They, by any standard, even if you want to be charitable, cannot in all honesty be described as morally upright where corruption is concerned.

The same applies to corrupt civil servants: They would dearly love you to believe that they are all valiant corruption fighters.

So, it seems logical to ask why do we rate so poorly in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, year in and year out?

Corruption is not just about money changing hands. That is common bribery. Corruption is about abusing entrusted power for private gain.

The latest to join the serried ranks of the country’s star-studded corruption fighters’ gallery is Daim Zainuddin, who, in my humble view, is the last person to lecture us about probity and rectitude.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, with his oversized baggage of religious credentials and other feel-good paraphernalia, had me fooled completely and the experience was all the more unpalatably galling because I genuinely like him as a person.

Whether he likes me or not, I dare not say. His intentions were I am sure very good, but then as we all know, the road to hell and moral damnation is paved with good intentions.

One lesson we should never ever forget is that politicians as a breed are pathological liars. There are naturally one or two who are reliable and decent.

But seriously, you would probably be better off trusting a cat with a plate of fried fish. Opposition politicians are no exception to this universal truth. So keep an eagle eye on them too, including me, just to be on the safe side.

They cannot abuse power because for now they have no power to abuse. Many will find the temptation irresistible. Name me one honest politician; I will name you 10 wayward Yang Berhormat, together with a clutch of even more crooked Yang Amat Berhormat.

Now, as for the second reason: My highlighting of the sentencing of Moshe Katsav of Israel is to draw comparison between the justice system of Israel and our own Mahathir-defaced system.

I cannot, figuratively speaking, for the life of me ever hope to see, not in a million years, a similar demonstration of the application one law for all enacted in our Palace of Justice. While we are not yet a failed state, our judiciary has, by general acclaim, failed to justify its existence.

What a stark contrast between a working democracy that is Israel and a thoroughly corrupt country that is Malaysia today.

Najib Razak’s tantalising array of transformation plans are doomed to failure if he continues to show arrogance and disdain for public opinion by putting disreputable, unsavoury and corruption-tainted Umno politicians to head Felda, Felcra and other institutional milch cows.

Let me remind Najib, the self-proclaimed listening ear of the people’s needs, that in the ultimate analysis, actions speak louder than words.

Malaysia cannot achieve wholesome, ethical developed nation status by 2020 or 2099 if Barisan Nasional politics remains stuck in the same groove of careless indifference to basic values and value systems that Malaysia desperate lacks and needs.

Knuckle down to basics and the rest will fall in place. At present the transformation plans sound like so much noise and nothing more because it is inconceivable that they will ever be carried out in a prudent and accountable and sustainable way for the benefit of the long-suffering people of Malaysia.

Discerning Malaysians are not blind to the fact that all the public money being so generously doled out on a daily basis in Sarawak and Selangor is nothing less than advance vote buying.

Money cannot buy the nation’s burning desire for change and change there will be. Try another tack, and save the country from bankruptcy.

  1. #1 by limkamput on Friday, 1 April 2011 - 1:43 pm

    I am not too sure, Tunku. You see, in this country, our leaders (i.e politicians in power) have even stopped condemning corruption and blatant abuse of power for fear of being labelled as hypocrites, except the occasional thick skin like that Diam Diam and that Kutty. That is how pathetic we have become. So, they concentrate instead on endless transformations, slogans and development in general which are more palatable and less risky. No, I don’t hear them talking about corruption and abuse of power that often anymore. They can’t.

    I agree with you that fighting corruption can not be based on the “goodness” of individuals. Religions and other forms of moral education have tried to do that for thousand years, but they mostly failed. Fighting corruption is about setting a robust system – that the probably of getting caught, charged and punished must be real, imminent and sufficiently punitive – here on this earth, not thereafter. Otherwise we can all dream on.

  2. #2 by dagen on Friday, 1 April 2011 - 2:04 pm

    Tunku laid a solid foundation for having a two-party system. Opposition are corrupt free? Oh yeah they would be in general. But it would be for a while only, I suppose. A term, sure. Two three terms, perhaps. Any longer, no one can guarantee that they will stay corrupt free.

    50yrs? Oh with that sort of time span I am sure corruption would grow roots that are both deep and wide. Look at umno – a prime example.

    The solution is to let the people have real democracy. Let them have the true ability check on the government by returning – yes, by returning – to them the power to throw-out non-performing as well as corrupt governments.

    In the current scenario, let them have the right to say with their votes: “We have enough of umno and barisan.”

    Show the north africans and mid eastern people that we in malaysia are much much more politically muture than they. We throw out our government through the ballot box.

    So lets do it. Starting with sarawak!

  3. #3 by burn on Friday, 1 April 2011 - 3:10 pm

    love ur write-up!
    wish many others are like you and lks.
    salute you all…

  4. #4 by burn on Friday, 1 April 2011 - 3:42 pm

    corruptions and bribes have become a norm in malaysia. it have become from bad to worse. from gomen to private sectors, no money no talks. ordinary malaysians suffers the most. may one day this diseases stop permanently when PR take over. as per tunku mentioned, actions speak louder than words. for those froggies, their name will be remembered forever for betraying the trust given by the rakyat. rakyat put them there, and rakyat will remove them. those froggies sure got muka tebal, tak tau apa namanya “tak sedar diri”.

  5. #5 by Godfather on Friday, 1 April 2011 - 4:29 pm

    Standard responses from BN when confronted with allegations of corruption:

    1. Who ? What ? Me ?
    2. It was paid by the seller, not by us. (Scorpene)
    3. We were misled. (PKFZ)
    4. It was a legitimate business transaction. (Sarawak)
    5. The law says it isn’t corruption. (Nazri)
    6. I can’t remember. (Mamakthir)
    7. Everything is above board. (Tourism Ministry)
    8. I’ll sue you if you say it’s overpriced. (Zahid)
    9. I have enough for 7 generations. (Semi Value)

    Then when they run out of excuses, the next comment would be: Do you think PR will do any better ? And when all else fails, the standard BN response would be: SO WHAT ?

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Friday, 1 April 2011 - 4:39 pm

    ///One lesson we should never ever forget is that politicians as a breed are pathological liars….There are naturally one or two who are reliable and decent. But seriously, you would probably be better off trusting a cat with a plate of fried fish. Opposition politicians are no exception to this universal truth. So keep an eagle eye on them too, including me, just to be on the safe side. They cannot abuse power because for now they have no power to abuse/// – by Tunku Aziz

    I concur. It is a realistic assessment. It means the people should not be starry eyed and will have to be vigilant all the time, regime change or not.

  7. #7 by jus legitimum on Friday, 1 April 2011 - 10:06 pm

    The most corrupted politicians can hypocritically and openly condemn the evils of corruption.In many government departments,the words ‘saya benci rasuah’ are prominently displayed but the irony is abuse of power and bribery take place just next to the hollow slogan.

  8. #8 by boh-liao on Friday, 1 April 2011 - 11:49 pm

    I say man, U, a Malay Muslim, went 2 Jerusalem, Israel? Betul ke?
    NR n Hisap will ask Special Branch 2 go after U 1

  9. #9 by Jong on Saturday, 2 April 2011 - 3:52 am

    That explains it, now I understand why you avoided PKR and join DAP instead! LOL!!!

  10. #11 by cskok8 on Saturday, 2 April 2011 - 8:10 pm

    Whatever our feelings about the way Israel treats its neighbors, it remains the only democracy in the Middle East; where the rule of law prevails.

  11. #12 by boh-liao on Sunday, 3 April 2011 - 10:41 am

    No wonder UmnoB/Perkosa want Malays only 2 b appointed as Customs officers – a sure fast way 2 achieve NEP n rich Malays
    If ordinary Customs officers hv gold bars n bags of cash containing up 2 RM600,000 in their homes, can U imagine what their superiors n UmnoBputras hv in their homes?
    Dis is just d tip of d iceberg – lots of $$ in dis nation via corruption, n dis sort of $$ can easily b used 2 bribe voters/officers n 2 finance activities against PR

    In dis nation, we hv a grp of corrupt rich ppl, $ easi come easi go, no What Me Worry abt inflation, while normal mortals struggle 2 survive with $ earned fr honest living

    Sadly, still lots of voters support UmnoB/BN n love 2 b exploited n skrued by UmnoB/BN

  12. #13 by monsterball on Monday, 4 April 2011 - 4:29 pm

    Another nice piece from Tunku.
    No matter how much you exposed or adivse…these rouges and Najib will never listen to you.
    SOLUTION:…Vote them out. End of story.

  13. #14 by cskok8 on Monday, 4 April 2011 - 11:47 pm

    How about the former Armed Forces chief whose house collapsed in a landslide at Bukit Antarabangsa. The papers reported that bags of money were discovered in the ruins of his house; among many golf bags and shoes.

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