Politics in Malaysia is the most profitable business

Steve Oh

I am sure most Malaysians will agree with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in a recent speech that there is more to corruption than government abuses. What more is not conjecture as much of it is in the public domain.

Surely it must be evident from the various writings in Malaysiakini, CPI and other weblogs unless someone is so out of touch with the present reality and fails to recognise the angst and anger of many civic-minded Malaysians who see their country sliding down the slippery slope.

It is true what Najib said that “What is often neglected, however, is the fact that corruption and corrupt behaviour is entangled deep with the moral fabric of all societies.”

He went on to say, “It is critical, therefore, people in positions of power and authority to exemplify the values they wish their constituents would follow”.

But does Najib believe what he says?

And more importantly where is the walk besides the talk?

All we have seen seems to be in the contrary. We are wont to ask, “Where is the example from the people in positions of power and authority?”

Instead many blame successive BN administrations for the decrepit moral state of their country because of corruption and abuses of power, which Najib admits implicitly. And Najib has yet to shake off the ghost of Altantuya Shaaribuu whose murder still leaves the public with the question: “Who ordered the killing?”

The incumbent government has much to answer for its failure to inspire the rest of the nation to higher moral conduct when it fails to apply the rule of law objectively across the board and involves its politicians and proxies in unbecoming acts such as the publishing of ‘dirty videos’ and other acts of political subterfuge.

If inspiring is too much to ask, Najib will sound more convincing if he can stop his government from picking on Malaysians whose only crime is they want to see the greed he describes and the obsession with profit diminished.

Excuses, excuses

Najib’s suggestion that “in some countries where severe punishment was meted out for corruption, it has not proven entirely effective” may explain why his administration is coy about allegations of corruption by some of his cabinet colleagues and the Sarawak Chief Minister Mahmud Taib.

However I am not aware of the failure of strong measures to curb corruption that has not succeeded anywhere. Since Najib did not mention the countries, it is hard to substantiate the statement. However there is irrefutable and strong evidence we know that proves severe punishment works.

Singapore is one success story worth noting. Singapore did not become what it is today – among the top nations on the global corruption index for squeaky clean governance – by making flimsy excuses like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for not having the power to take corrupt politicians to court.

The Singapore no-nonsense approach has proven corruption does not pay, and where it is found it is dealt with harshly by the authorities and we have even seen a senior politician charged commit suicide.

Surely the MACC’s excuse of having no power in the light of much global evidence in the allegations of corruption by the political bigwig must send every anti-corruption agency around the globe scratching their heads.

The truth is countries ensure there are laws to plug legal loopholes and every ploy by anyone to evade prosecution. Those governments ensure no one is above the law or out of its reach. There is even Interpol to help countries catch their criminals across borders.

Let us not forget Dr Mahahtir Mohammed went to extreme lengths to change the country’s constitution to get what he wanted and members of the royal family came under the scope of the law when he made it possible for them to be taken to court over civil and criminal matters where once they enjoyed legal impunity from prosecution.

But if a government lacks the moral and political will, then it will give dishonest and lame excuses. And sadly that is the problem with the Najib administration that seems bent on punishing those who want to see improvements in the moral fibre of their politicians, and even a constructive group like Aliran is not spared from harassment.

It begins with govt and its actions

The government can’t shirk its role in having created a political culture and society that has seen national integrity decline because of its corruption. Abuses of power filter outside of Putrajaya into the corridors of power and into the streets where cops are seen collecting bribes from illegal migrants and errant motorists.

The people in their daily lives are confronted with corruption everywhere.

With such moral insight that Najib exhibits in his speech, he ought to use his office and inspire his cabinet colleagues to lead Malaysia onto higher moral ground. After all, he espouses the virtues that Malaysians want to see badly after observing their nation bastardized by successive BN administrations. Even one that was relatively decent under Pak Lah was damned by Dr Mahathir Mohammed as “rotten”.

What is worse than a self-confessed reprobate – someone without moral principles – is a hypocrite. The hypocrite says the right things but does the opposite. And the tragedy is they can’t see their moral failings, just like the Emperor without clothes can’t see his nakedness.

The profit motive is amoral. It is an economic concept that oils the wheels of industry and human survival since people learned to trade. But profiteering is immoral and cynically people think politics, especially in Malaysia, is the most profitable business.

Even God asks, “What does it profit a man to win the world and lose his soul?” The solution to greed is for politicians not to profiteer by being corrupt and abusing their powers.

Public servants should serve the public and politicians are supposed to lead them in delivering the services to the people, not be obsessed about staying in power so that they can get rich and greedy.

Even as I write I read of the government giving a grant of RM10,000 to the Selangor Youth to help the government retain power. If that is not a blatant abuse of power that would get a government in trouble abroad for using public funds for political party purposes, then I don’t know what abuse of power is. We can’t overlook government abuses of power because everywhere you turn you see it, you smell it and you meet it.

Religion may be the opiate of the people and a corrupt government their odium.

There are many of us who believe that ‘honesty is the best policy’ even though our leaders have failed to inspire us by example and despite the Islamization of the country. We have to agree with Dr Mahathir Mohammed who once criticised it all as ‘form without substance’.

When Najib denounces greed, he has to lead by example and gather his flock to all take a hard look at themselves in the mirror. And so do all those who point the finger at others including myself. Until we remove the plank in our own eyes, we will not be able to see clearly to remove the speck from the eyes of others.

But I am glad more Malaysians can see the government for what it is and with Najib’s insight and diagnostic talents it may not be remiss for concerned citizens to say to him, “Physician heal thyself” because he may not like the bitter medicine the voters have prescribed.

  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 12:20 am

    How many politicians, current and ex, government or opposition, are in the poor house?

    If you fulfill the criteria, you get tax free income-pensions and benefits for life. Am I not right?

    And the BN government takes very good care of some of its former and current leaders like giving them Chairmanships, Ambassadorships, Ministerial ranking positions, Special Envoys etc etc and not forgetting contracts. All they have to do is to be good little obedient boys and lackeys. Is this very hard to do?

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 12:52 am

    People who have been in corruption business for years are numb to corruption, so much so that they do not treat corruption as a social ill, let alone tackling the menace.

  3. #3 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 12:55 am

    Ah Jib Kor is such a sham.

    See how he smacks and curls his lips as he speaks. Ah Jib Kor is such a sham. His walk does not square with his talk.

    At least I can trust crabs; they always walk crooked and have such fearsome jaws. I avoid them.

    Shouln’t I avoid Ah Jib Kor too. When I see him across the hotel ballroom, I walk out the other door. Dont want to breathe the same air and be contaminated.

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 7:17 am

    It is not easy to resist the tendency to be corrupt. The reason is because by nature man’s goal is his own happiness – not others under milieu of survival of the fittest (read most cunning and duplicitous). Which is why corruption is pretty universal since self gain is easiest achieved from positions of influence/power abused at others expense. To carry this out one necessarily has to be a hypocrite, say one thing do another! Of course it is also possible not to be corrupt or hypocritical. On can pursue the natural instinct of self preservation and self gain without detracting the right of others; one can reconcile righteousness with self interest, pursue self gain along with gain to others on a “win win” basis. To do so one has not only to apply serious effort but also one’s creative and problem solving abilities to forge an all winning formula in dealings whether in personal; dealings business or politics. However that ability is perhaps more a preserve of a minority so blessed with an ability and a will for such endeavour. For common humanity most either don’t have the ability and will or just too lazy.

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 7:45 am

    The more important words to hear are not Najib but the warlords of UMNO. Listen to the Ali Rustam, Musa Aman, Taib, Muhiyiddin etc.. There is not even an iota of change in their mendacity and their over-entitlement and in fact much worst than under Mahathir. How can corruption in this country not primarily about political leaders first and foremost?

    Yesterday, they publicize the fact that a US diplomat said that Malaysia is right to tackling graft in baby steps as an excuse. The diplomat obviously did not state the obvious is that if you keep losing any major games each and every time, even if you take baby steps, you need to change the players involved, not keep using the same players and try playing a better slow game.

    Again the Mendacity and the Over-Entitlement is simply unchangeable in UMNO/BN. EVEN if you kick them out of office, they still won’t change because their assets are considerable and they will keep dreaming of returning to power in their corrupt ways..

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 7:46 am

    The important thing to note is this: no one is an island and everyone lives with neighbours, if one cares for one own interest so do one’s neighbours. One can’t be in conflict with others. This alone necessitates an individual to consider the needs of others even when they compete with his own interest. He needs to “balance”. Whatever said of an individual applies 10 times more to a politician on whom voters place trust to vest power so that when he runs the affairs of the group, he does so as a trustee would a beneficiary in sacred trust to advance group’s interest and not his own. That is the crux of the “social contract” between a man and his neighbors, between a voter and the one he votes, and between people and their leaders. The social contract is of course an ideal easier articulated than honoured. Most (I won’t say all) politicians voted in will forget about the social contract. He does not acknowledge that what is pursued at individual level (self gain) if equally done so by leaders elected tot the helm, with powers to wield for common good if wielded for private individual gain will, in breach of the social contract, bring common ruin in betrayal of trust. It is too much to expect self discipline. The people themselves have to boot these people out and get the anti corruption laws enforced against them. This is what such laws are there for. At the end of the day if the people are not vigilant of their rights – if they are too easily taken in by “I help you, you help me” – then who to blame? Which is why people always get the government they deserve.

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 8:03 am

    Why “I help you, you help me” as a motto is wrong is because “I help you” is to cater for your self interest/gain (for the moment) and “you help me” is to cater for my “self interest/gain” (for the moment) in respect of the single transaction be it Sibu by-election or national election. Even at best, there is nothing there in that motto that involves right or wrong of policies and platform from stand point of constituency or nation. At worse it can be construed narrowly as ”I scratch my back and I scratch yours” which can also degenerate to “I bribe you or you bribe me”, lets do it for the moment and this transaction.

  8. #8 by monsterball on Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 10:21 am

    The hardest thing for Najib to do is proving his innocence.
    The easiest thing for him to do is to act innocent.
    The saddest thing for Najib….his acting and smooth operator behaviors are not getting more voters to support him.
    The longest delay for an election by an unelected PM …makes him expose his guilt and fears.
    The ugliest example Najib showed to Malaysians was his mosque act.
    The whole truth and nothing but the truth about Najib is…he is a born liar.

  9. #9 by monsterball on Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 1:43 pm

    “his acting AS smooth operator”…..
    The funniest and famous thing that Najib did was in Rejeng Park, Sibu…telling voters…..”I help you. You help me”…and got clobbered.
    The strangest thing about Najib…his lips turn pink at times….a sign of one who is guilty by his own body reaction.
    The sickening thing about Najib…he keeps on trying to fool Malaysians.
    The biggest lie he told Malaysians is that he never ever break his promises.
    The trickiest thing he did recently is keep half of his promise in this Budget…and ignoring the most important other half…to stamp out corruptions as he promised.
    The clearest message that all Malaysians can understand about Najib….is asking all to forget corruptions and murders.

  10. #10 by monsterball on Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 1:56 pm

    The whiter than white Najib is projecting himself is a cheap out-dated magician trick.
    He is a Prince from the jungle..appointed as PM by Mahathir’s command… in city life he knows next to nothing.
    It’s all acting…acting…acting with people behind him…teaching him .how to do all tricks and treats.
    Leave him alone….he will cry like Baginda confessing everything.
    After 4 years of acting…he has become quite good at that…and now want to deny deny deny…to the delights of all rouges and thieves in Umno B.

  11. #11 by Winston on Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 2:55 pm

    He went on to say, “It is critical, therefore, people in positions of power and authority to exemplify the values they wish their constituents would follow”. – End of quote

    So, if those in positions of power and authority exemplify corruption, scams and scandals, their constituents should follow suit?

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