By Koon Yew Yin
Recent scandals have shown to Malaysians that there are no ten commandments for those holding authority and manning government and officialdom in the country. No five or three commandments either. Only one commandment and that commandment is “Cash is King”
Unfortunately when that commandment is given first priority and prominence to guide the behavior and actions of our politicians and the civil servants, what we have as the outcome is massive corruption – big, medium and small.
We all know of the big ones such as the 1MDB case. There is also the personal donation of RM2.6 billion to Prime Minister Najib Razak which is potentially the mother of all corruption cases and which I cannot comment too much about as it may involve me in a potential court case.
Now we are starting to see the ripple or copy cat effect that big scandals which involve the most prominent leaders and government ministries and state companies have on the rest of society.
The most recent scandals to hit the news may involve peanuts and small ikan bilis compared with the scandals associated with the millions and billions of ringgit and big sharks found during Dr. Mahathir’s time and stretching all the way to today.
But they deserve special mention because they show the extent to which the cancer of corruption has seeped deeply into the body of Malaysia.
The first case appeared following public complaints about pollution from uncontrolled bauxite mining in Pahang. As a result of the waters off Kuantan turning red last week due to spillage of the ore used in making aluminium, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was compelled to investigate. Not surprisingly it found at least three potential areas of corrupt activity in this newly established mining activity.
One of these two areas relates to discrepancies in the receipt of royalties amounting to RM47million last year which, according to some sources, should have been five times higher or over RM200 million. The second involves bribes of RM100,000 from an unlicensed bauxite miner to four officials from the Pahang Land and Mines Department. According to MACC investigations director Datuk Azam Bak, “The cash bribe was paid for the purpose of protecting the miner’s illegal activities from any enforcement action” . “Up to RM100,000 in cash was alleged to be found in a washing machine in the home of one of the four officers charged. Finally, the the MACC also discovered the illegal selling of a Form 13D used for mineral transfers, which it said was being sold for up to RM200 despite costing just RM1.
Now that the illegal mining and uncontrolled pollution is out in the open we find the MACC beating its chest and claiming that “we view this seriously and will not hesitate to take action against those involved in corruption and abusing their powers under the MACC Act 2009,” the commission said in a follow up statement.
Come on, MACC, the public knows what the agency is capable of. Action against the ikan bilis only. And if there had been no tell tale pollution stain and public outcry in Kuantan, we can bet that the MACC will be fast asleep.
The second case involves allegations of corruption against Islamic College. Baitulmal Professional Institute (IPB) made by the former CEO Dr Syed Omar Syed Aqil, who claimed he was suspended for whistleblowing.
This college is 70% owned by the Federal Territories Islamic Council (MAIWP). I am not sure of the extent of public money involved in the funding of MAIWP. But even if the Malaysian tax payer is not paying to support the existence and operations of MAIWP, I agree with PKR secretary general who said that “there is an urgent need for the government to review the standards of governance in these institutions.”
In fact, there is a need to put all government institutions, especially the Islamic agencies and bodies, under the microscope. Don’t forget that there is still an unresolved controversy surrounding Islamic charity Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Islam Malaysia (Yapeim) and questions of how the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) uses its funds to hold talk shows in Paris. This scrutiny is necessary as hundreds of millions if not billions of ringgit of tax payers money is going into Islamic bodies.
What is more unacceptable is that Federal Territories (FT) Islamic authorities have warned Muslims that Islam was being maligned in the country, with its religious institutions allegedly targeted by traitorous Muslims. Without naming the so-called “turncoats,” the sermon warned that if the situation continues unabated, a “cancer” will develop and invite divine wrath, with the community’s unity inevitably being broken.
According to media reports, the FT Islamic Affairs Department said in its recent sermon that “Even more saddening is when we discover that those who belittle are not the non-Muslims, but are actually those who profess to be Muslims, akin to turncoats or enemy collaborators. “This is indeed shocking and is a great blow to all Muslims.”
Come on FT Islamic Affairs Department. What is shocking and a great blow is the position of silence it has been taking on what is happening in misgovernance of Islamic institutions.
As stated by Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) vice chairman Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, an institution being Islamic does not make them “invulnerable to scrutiny”. Further he has pointed out that “it is worse for such organisations that have Islamic labels engaging in corruption as it would tarnish Islam’s image.”
Actually what is being tarnished if such acts are condoned is not only Islam’s image but the whole country’s – Islamic, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Animist and other faiths!