Monday, April 11, 2011

In Malaysia, where Money is still God

The case of a Customs officer found dead at the offices of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission reminds us again of the ongoing corruption and graft facing Malaysia today.

Most will agree that Malaysia is one of the most corrupted countries in the world now. The obscene amounts running into billions of ringgit from black market activities borders to the extreme, and completely boggles the mind. Governed by a near dictatorship, a police state and repressive laws like the ISA, OSA and the Sedition Act, Malaysia is on the brink of collapse.

The amount of corruption in Malaysia, if listed in detail, will be hundreds of pages long, but let’s just concentrate on the latest expose’ – the Customs controversy. Everyone is waiting in anticipation of the investigation of Sarbani, Asst Director of Selangor Customs.

An autopsy was performed pending lab analysis, and he is already buried. A customs officer has been arrested with RM2 million stashed away is only the tip of the iceberg. What is ironic is that the corruption has been going on for half a century and the authorities took so long to clamp down on graft shows that none of the enforcement agencies have any clout or Independence.

The ACA was a total write off, and the Government revamped it, reformed it and gave it a new name – MACC. Then they put it under the PM department. So it is dependent on the Prime Minister’s department, constantly awaiting instructions on who or what to prosecute. Without its own backbone, MACC is just another lapdog again.

Whereas in the rest of the world, most Anti Corruption Agencies like the police law enforcement agencies operate independently of each other, and do not report to the Government, our agencies are otherwise. The Government has no wish to see any progress, nor interested to solve the problem. For whatever reason they really want to keep the lid shut on all the graft that is plaguing this country.

If MACC is independent, where even the Head of MACC can be replaced by independent panels of the most respected citizens or a select Parliamentary committee if found wanting, this would allow MACC to operate seamlessly and smoothly. Investigations will be thorough, with swiftness to uncover graft. Investigation Officers would be given a free hand and be totally independent of each other to investigate, book and prosecute without fear or favour. Civil Departments would think twice to commit graft, knowing MACC will come breathing down their necks.

A few years back after much public protest of Corruption within the JPJ, the government swiftly held campaigns to educate enforcement officers on the gravity of graft, even employing religion to 'haram-nise' dirty money. Then they created PUSPAKOM to replace JPJ enforcement on maintenance of vehicles. PUSPAKOM did not last long, as graft began to creep in. Still, we have many time bombs on the road, as long as a small bribe changes hands. Realising that the creation of PUSPAKOM could not check graft, they started moving Officers around and yearly transfers were in order to other states.

How many of us while driving or motorcycling were not stopped at a roadblock, frightened by a police officer who menacingly pointed out the charge of a traffic offense. They first ask for your driver license and check your roadtax, whether they can pin any extra charges on you. And before we could say sorry, they have already started their sales pitch refined after years of practise.” How do you want to to settle the matter?” “Well, you can pay the summons or attend court and the fine is RM300. If you want to settle please indicate so, while I take down your details.” Gently pretending to scribble something in the summons book, they give the book to you in the car to sign. But nothing is scribbled on except you have to put the money sandwiched between the pages of the book. If you give a good amount like RM50, they smile at you childishly and admonish you to drive carefully and not to be naughty again.

The level of graft used to be RM20-RM30, sometimes going to RM50-RM100 for serious offenses. But this is chicken feed, compared to the billions of ringgit in corruption, committed by our leaders.

And to think that MACC is to blame is also not true. They are not independent and are answerable to another boss which is not within the department. Malaysians can write MACC off as it will never be able to bring graft under control in this country.

It is a pity that Malaysians have to live with all this nonsense and as long as BN is in charge, graft and corruption will continue unabated. Someone else is going to lose his life in the future to protect the Big Fish. The looting of Malaysia will not stop until the country is bankrupt. And like Pirates, the wealth will be stashed away in far off caves, in tax havens such as the Virgin Islands.

And in Malaysia, crime does pay. And to think that Malaysia is also one of the most religious countries in Asia and the world, in terms of the various ethnic religions proliferating in the country is ironic.

In the end it is all about the money. Come every election, Malaysians will continue to vote BN as long as there are some sort of monetary returns. Even RM50 can buy a vote. That’s how cheap we all are. Money is still God and it will continue to be so.

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