It is difficult to reconcile with the countless scandals rocking the nation with news of misappropriation of money and corruption. We have just read the amazing events around the Sabah Water Department issue. A total of RM114 million seized, of which RM53.7 million was in cash, RM60 million in bank accounts in addition to luxury cars, jewellery, 127 land titles, branded watches and handbags.
These represent alleged kickbacks involving RM3.3 billion worth of federal projects. Can all this be done without the knowledge of the chief minister, the finance minister and the chief secretary of the state? Earlier we heard about the scandal around the Youth and Sports Ministry involving RM100 million. This was followed by the Immigration scandal with officials again being caught with large amounts of money in their possession.
If we were to list the scandals from the days of the Bank Bumiputra issue in the mid- eighties till today under Umno’s leadership we will have a list so long and amounts so staggering, all of which will only highlight the opportunity costs lost in becoming a really fully developed nation.
When we then compare this to the extent to which people have not been convicted and held accountable, we can get a clue as to how we are where we are today. No minister or top official has been indicted, while cases have dragged on and on with no conclusions.
The present chief secretary, Ali Hamsa, has the gall to say that a few rotten eggs should not cast aspersions on an otherwise great civil service. With due respect, he is not ready to take the bull by the horns and face reality. What we have heard and seen is only the tip of the iceberg as is evidenced from the regular Auditor-General’s Reports.
I am afraid the perception is strong that the civil service seems corrupted to the hilt. The ‘tontos’ have allegedly just killed a Customs officer who was discharging her duties. Earlier a deputy director of Customs was shot dead. We have to face it that we have inherited an allegedly corrupt police force, Customs, Immigration as well as several local councils.
The recent Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) fiasco is another case in point. In Malaysian Official 1 (MO1) we have an excellent example of Umno/BN’s leadership by example in terms of corruption and mismanagement of the nation that highlights figures in the billions.
People are being charged in Singapore, the Department of Justice has come out clearly in the US, banks have been closed down and action taken while at home in Malaysia life goes on as usual. Shame on Malaysia!
This is part of the Umno culture that has also allegedly pervaded into BN as well. They have manipulated the New Economic Policy (NEP) to such an extent that they have created a culture of handouts, rent seeking, titles and patronage. As the prime minister says, “You help me and I will help you”. Umno is all about race and power and this is why after five decades of rule the country is where it is today.
The emblem was unity in diversity and the economic imbalance brought to birth the New Economic Policy. While this did address the issue, its long and continued implementation under different acronyms continues to do immense damage to the country. The NEP mentality pervades the civil service and the leadership of Umno.
Leaders of other BN component parties meanwhile seem more interested in their own wealth and have likewise forsaken the cause of unity in diversity.
Trapped within racial ghettos
Trapped as we are within racial ghettos we are unable to find that transcending cause that will lead us to the Malaysian dream. The mould of ethnic politics polarises, isolates and cripples us. Our diversity is our strength but we lack the will and leadership to pull together. Our diversity seems only good for tourism and after 53 years as Malaysia we can and should do better.
Consider the civil service, the army, the navy, the government-linked companies (GLCs), to mention a few, and what is there that is representatively Malaysian. Umno culture is not the Malaysian culture and we have missed the magic of creating a unique culture that blends the best of all ethnic communities in the nation.
Issues are viewed from a race and religious perspective. Take Islam as an example and you have an Umno brand to it. It is all fashion and obligations. Everything is halal or hudud and the need to put up a front that one is holier than the other. Islam is a garment for Umno and PAS Malays. It is all expression with very little substance.
They are more interested in policing religious obligations of fellow Muslims than inspiring the development of virtuous and effective individuals who lead by example. Inner change has to take place otherwise it is prohibition-focussed, which is rooted in self-righteousness and injustice.
Umno’s brand of Islam has led to the levels of corruption that we witness today. Even this is rationalised in the context of race. What is wrong for Umno Malays to make money? It is absolutely not wrong at all. But the key question is about the means employed to do this.
When they make a lot of money even if this means corruption then it is described as ‘rezeki’. Others are merely ‘jealous’, seems to be the assertion. However, if later individuals are caught than it is ‘takdir’. So if you can get away with it then it is worth the try and the system and the culture probably in many ways encourages such conduct and behaviour. The fact that things can go on for so long reveals the strength of the prevailing culture.
Otherwise, how does one explain the endemic nature of corruption in the administration of the nation? Today we can evaluate what BN stands for and have accomplished. Race will not unite this nation and unless a more inclusive policy and leadership is in place we will as a nation continue to move down the ladder of mediocrity.
Is this what we want? When political parties and leaders do not stand for anything inclusive they turn to issues of identity as a means to capture and sustain themselves in power. Manipulation, delineation of constituencies and injustice is obvious for the sake of power. This, however, comes at a great cost and we can already see what this is doing to Malaysia as a nation.
The personification of faith is ultimately reflected through an expression of values. A strong and abiding commitment to values is part of a committed expression of faith. Without this it is all show without substance. Believers of all religions and politicians who project themselves as great adherents of any religion ultimately fail this litmus test. Religion without conviction is hypocrisy and conviction with religion is faith.