HAVING witnessed democracy in action in the form of state assembly elections in Sarawak recently, it is worthwhile looking at what the Sarawak elections had exposed. Political analysts have already made pronouncements about identity politics, that is, the politics of race and community, being pushed to the side by new demands for development. They have pronounced on the virtues of being “with the people” in the manner of Taib Mahmud, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, as opposed to the “parachute politics” of Anwar Ibrahim.

Corruption has been mentioned, but in terms that are not very clear, at least to lay people like myself. Has this exercise in democracy proved that there is widespread anger at the corruption that exists in almost all parts of society, in public bodies and authorities as well as in private entities? From what one can comprehend, the answer is the familiar “yes-and-no” that analysts take shelter behind when faced with a phenomenon they cannot really understand.

The verdict cannot be against corruption in, for example, Sarawak, where the reputation of the ruling Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and the other Sarawak BN component parties combine is not of its being a group of saints, to put it mildly. For the record, the perception about the party that lost badly, the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) which lost 13 of 19 seats it contested and its President Dr. George Chan Hong Nam, Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, humiliating defeat in the hands of the DAP, is no better.

In Sarawak, no one will take you seriously if you claim that the Barisan National Sarawak is pure as driven snow; that the losing SUPP was seen as utterly corrupt, which is why it lost; and that the Sarawak BN and Taib Mahmud is responsible for the chopping down of most of Sarawak’s rainforests at the expense of the indigenous communities; and Taib Mahmud was also seen as corrupt and the protector of corrupt allies. The fact is that all of them are seen as corrupt.

Without making any solemn pronouncements on why a party won or lost, or the role played by rebel candidates of all parties in splitting vote banks, one can say with a degree of certainty that a rejection of corruption was not really the main issue in the election. And that is the truly worrying factor in this round of exercise of democracy.

Equally worrying is the sense one gets that the major political parties know this and are not really bothered. They also know, from the look of things, that the public protestation of corruption will never ever amount to anything as far as political power in our system is concerned. The parties strategise their moves and countermoves on the basis of other considerations, which they think to be more effective and relevant. So we can continue to bark corruption, coruption, coruption but nothing is gonna happen and nothing is gonna change, it has not change for the last 50 years.

An article that appeared not so long ago in The Nation cited a study by a group of scholars in the London School of Economics, which said that the comparisons made by various writers and experts between Malaysia and Singapore as emerging economic powers were erroneous; that Malaysia could never hope to be a rival to the economic powerhouse that Singapore already is. One reason given for this is the all-pervasive corruption in Malaysia.

This trend of thinking will in all likelihood catch on, despite brave words from leaders of Barisan National. One can sense it in the way the Malaysian stock market has behaved; in the way the ringgit has got weaker by the day; and in the general gloom among bankers, which they will not admit to publicly but will talk about mainly among themselves. It is not gloom about the immediate future – it is about Malaysia in the long term. It is, finally, about the nature of Malaysian democracy.

There are those who increasingly see signs of fatal flaws in Malaysian democracy because of the way it has developed. Political parties in power, from regional parties to so-called national parties, depend on corruption from the top down to survive, and survival is all that matters. An even more dangerous trend was the failure to improve the education standards.

Malaysia’s failure to provide quality education means that eventually our young men and women will lack the intellectual capabilities, leading to a falling off of quality of work, of skill levels and so on, with its inevitable ill effects on the economy as a whole. But are our politicians who are engaged in the task of survival, interested or concerned?

Eventually, one has to conclude that Malaysian-style democracy and the ills afflicting our economy, our industry, our infrastructure, our health services and our education system will ensure that Malaysia does not become an economic superpower, emerging or otherwise, and that it will have to depend on aid to keep itself going after all the natural resources have depleted. Then, multinational corporations will start to invest in other more lucrative ASEAN countries. Remember, Malaysia’s debts is now a whopping RM0.5 TRILLION.

Now, a lot depends on what young leaders such as Nurul Izzah and others such as Chief Ministers Musa Aman of Sabah and Lim Guan Eng of Penang do. There is little to be gained by looking at any other leader; those who are indeed leaders are either erratic and whimsical, or interested only in lining their pockets. Some like Taib Mahmud although in his twilight may well take Sarawak towards development, but he has to provide proof of that, as Musa Aman has done so admirably.

  1. Brian says:

    Political parties are busy milking the system. Social activists are busy carving out their space. People are busy earning their livelihood. Corruption Free Malaysia remains a dream….


  2. lee says:

    Govt only comments on the motives & methods of those who agitate against Corruption. It has nothing to say on the substantive issue of their own plan to tackle Corruption.


  3. James says:

    Your piece is appropriate Selva and your timing for this piece is fantastic. I have Nazri’s press statement here to confirm it. Mati lah Malaysia like this.

    Transcript: Top UMNO Spinner Nazri speaks to the Press

    by The Malaysian Insider

    De facto Law Minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz said that he sees no problem with his son driving businessman Michael Chia’s Hummer SUV.

    He said that if a certain Opposition figure (name withheld due to legal reasons) is not worried about a leaked video purportedly depicting himself having a tryst with a foreign sex worker, then there is no reason why he should be.

    Reporters had questioned Mohd Nazri at his office after the allegation on the Hummer was exposed by PKR leaders at the Parliament lobby today (November 1).

    The full transcript follows:

    Nazri: He (Rafizi Ramli) got no locus standi.

    Reporters: (Batu MP) Tian Chua and (Ampang MP) Zuraida (Kamaruddin) were there also.Then bring him to Parliament lah.

    We can show the stuff that they (PKR) have done.

    I saw. If it is an offence… Ask Tian Chua to ask me… If it is an office, report to the Police… If I have done any offence, report me to the MACC.

    Basically they just said it is a conflict of interest.

    Who asked the questions?

    All three of them (Zuraida, Tian Chua and Rafizi).

    No, no, in Parliament, who asked the question?

    First time was Tian Chua (who raised the issue) in question-and-answer session.

    Then who is the Minister in-Charge of… so, who give me the question?

    They are saying if your son has links with Michael Chia, then you should not have stood up and defend them…

    No, no, no. I’m the Minister. I’ve got no personal interest. When he asked that question, I didn’t even know what question was coming. It was (the) committee-level debate.

    There was also (a) written answer if I’m not mistaken.

    That (question was answered) under my name, of course, and what conflict of interest do I have? I don’t have any conflict of interest.

    And I have no control over the MACC. I can’t tell the MACC to drop cases. They are independent. So because I have no power to do that, how can I be bribed? I cannot do something which they want me to do.

    And in Parliament, you must understand, answers come from the MACC, not from me. I don’t even know that… when they asked about Michael Chia, the answer came from the MACC, I don’t even know that Michael Chia was not arrested, but the answer came from the MACC. I don’t know anything.

    What about the claim that you were talking on behalf of (Hong Kong’s) Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), saying that the ICAC has cleared them of the charges?

    That’s the answer from the MACC. You see, our system, you know what, first of all, I don’t even know the questions that were going to be asked because it was not planned, it was committee-level debate.

    When I was answering, they stood up and asked me. So I’m the Minister, I have to answer. The answer all came from the MACC.

    Okay, all things aside, whether or not the car is registered under Michael Chia’s name…

    I don’t know. It is between my son and Michael Chia… Anyway, if my son drives a car of Michael Chia, what has that got to do with me? What has that got to do with me? He is not a kid below 21 years old, he is an adult.

    They are saying that Dato Seri Shahrizat has claimed the same thing and now it has caused her…

    Yeah, that’s what they are trying to do… but what have I done? I don’t know.

    But the thing is, you see, even though you can say that it is not your fault, nothing to do with you and all that, but when it comes out in media, you know how the public would view this kind of… it doesn’t sound nice…

    It doesn’t bother me a bit. (laughs)

    Like Shahrizat’s case, she said: “I don’t know anything about my husband… ”

    That’s husband and wife. I don’t sleep with my son. I’m not gay (reporters laugh). My son is not my wife, my son is not my lover, I don’t sleep with him.

    What he does, he doesn’t tell me. It is different from husband and wife, okay? Why are you so worried?

    Not to say worried; I’m just saying that it does not sound nice in public, then the public… and people will start talking.

    Let it be, let it be. You press Wikipedia, ‘Nazri Aziz’, what come out? All sorts of things. I’m still a Minister, my friend, okay? It is not going to hurt me one bit. I’m not affected by gutter politics.

    Do you know Michael Chia?

    I know him also. You see, there must be this difference, okay. If I’m a High Court judge, and Michael Chia appears before me and my son drives his car, then I’m in trouble.

    I’m not a judge in Michael Chia’s case. I’m not even the investigator. The MACC is (the investigator) in Michael Chia’s case. I’m a Minister replying in Parliament.

    They claimed that the ICAC has not cleared (Michael Chia), and the ICAC closed the case because they didn’t get any cooperation from Malaysia, from the MACC.

    No, no, it was a donation… This one, you don’t ask me. You must ask the Attorney-General’s Chambers, you must ask the MACC.

    You know I’m not their spokesperson. I only replied what they gave me. They are independent body, I got no control over the MACC, I got no control over the AG. So how can I be influencing them.

    I can’t and all those replies in Parliament, you know, are answers given by the MACC, not my personal answers.

    You must understand the system. The A-G and the chief commissioner of the MACC, they cannot appear in Parliament, they have got no locus standi.

    You are the spokesperson?

    With their consent. All my answers, anything about the MACC and AG’s Chambers, all from them like people who get angry with me (when) I said secular state. That’s AG.

    People get angry with me because I say Pati (illegal migrants) in Sabah is not a threat. That is security council punya jawab (answer). Kalau PM jawab, PM kena marah. I’m okay, I have no problem. It’s part and parcel of my job.

    As de facto Law Minister, although just reading out answer from different agencies, do you see yourself influential because your reply carries weight… ?

    I’m a very influential person. I’m a very influential man. There’s no doubt about it, very important too.I’m not scared at all, I did nothing wrong. Those replies came from Parliament. I was merely doing my job, discharging my duties and responsibility.

    So you won’t consider suing Rafizi then?

    What for? Let him be a trumpet blower. Anyway, I don’t really want to answer him because he’s not an MP.

    I think if Tian Chua was there only to let him (Rafizi) make a statement at (the) Parliament (lobby), because he’s not a member of Parliament, he cannot make a statement here, he’s just a wannabe. Make sure you’re an MP first, then come to talk to me.

    Anyway, even in the Parliament, (during) debates… Ketua Pembangkang (Opposition Leader), that’s my level. But of course, MPs ask me, they ask. But this guy, no way.

    If one day, he enters Parliament as an MP, he’ll bash you.

    Suruh dia masuk parliament dulu la. (Tell me him to enter Parliament first). I don’t want to stoop low and deal with him, okay. But since you all come and ask, I just say lah. It’s not even a mosquito bite. I’m sorry. If you all come here thinking I’ll be upset, far from it.

    But do you know about the Hummer?

    That’s between my son and Michael Chia. I know Michael Chia.

    So you confirm Hummer really exists…

    Kalau dia nak bagi Hummer ke, Ferrari ke, itu Michael Chia punya pasal lah, bukan bagi dekat I (If he wants to give a Hummer, or a Ferrari, that’s Michael Chia’s business. He’s not giving it to me). I’m the Minister, not my son, okay?

    So you confirm that the Hummer really exists.

    Buat apa nak confirm. Gambar dah ada. You pergi tanya anak I. (Why should I confirm it? The pictures are there. You go ask my son. As I’ve said, I don’t sleep with my son, okay? I’m not gay and I’m not incestuous.

    Do you see a problem (with the fact) that your son (drives) Michael Chia’s car?

    Why is it a problem? It’s between him and Michael. Go and find Michael lah. Go and find Michael.

    As I’ve said, I don’t sleep with my son, okay? I’m not gay and I’m not incestuous.

    Do you see a problem (with the fact) that your son (drives) Michael Chia’s car?

    Why is it a problem? It’s between him and Michael. Go and find Michael lah. Go and find Michael.

    Is there a problem?

    You can ask him lah if there’s a problem. I don’t drive the car. Mine is WVJ 6. Everyday I come here, WVJ 6. Wealth, victory and justice. Some people say ‘wisdom’, I don’t want (wisdom).

    ***You prefer wealth to wisdom?

    I prefer wealth. That’s why I’m rich. I can afford a lot of things but certainly it’s not NFC’s (National Feedlot Corporation’s) money.

    I know you don’t care about gutter politics and that this is not even a mosquito bite to you. But do you think this issue would harm BN in the election?

    Why harm BN? Why BN? What about (an opposition figure’s) picture screwing (a) Chinese prostitute and all that? That one don’t harm… is what is happening to me worse than that? Huh? Is it worseah? Is it worse?

    If (the Opposition figure) is not worried, why should I be worried about this? Your picture all over town, in the cyber world, f***ing this prostitute from China. He’s not worried, why should I worry about this. You can quote me on this.

    You ask me if I’m worried, on whether it will harm BN. What I’m saying is that this picture of (the Opposition figure) screwing this Chinese prostitute going all over the cyberworld, he’s not worried. My question is: should I be worried?

    (Question inaudible, muffled by other reporters’ chatter) The way you answer …

    I don’t care. Why are you so worried?

    I need to confirm again, you know (of) the Hummer?

    No need, the pictures are there. You go ask my son. I cannot be responsible for my son. I don’t screw him, I don’t sleep with him. He sleeps with his wife, he’s got a kid. So whatever he does, I don’t know. I know Michael Chia, I’m not worried.

    If the allegations really exist?

    Go report to Police lah. Why do you (hold) a PC (press conference)? Right or not? You know anything about me, why you make PC? Publicity seeker lah, cheap publicity. Go report Police lah, MACC.

    If your son is really guilty…

    Guilty of what?

    If he really committed…

    Committed what? Do you know what you are talking about? Committed what? Kiss a girl?

    Conflict of interest?

    Conflict of interest? But he is not a Minister.

    But he is related to you.

    He’s my son. I have no power over MACC. I have no power on A-G’s Chambers. How can I? And all those questions, answers, came from MACC. How can I be compromised? I cannot be compromised.

    It’s not my answer, it’s the answer of SPRM. You must understand that. It’s not my answer, all these answers are from MACC. If I said Michael Chia was not arrested, that was the answer from MACC, not me. I’m not the investigator, I didn’t investigate. If A-G said, if I answer in Parliament that ICAC has already closed the case, that is the answer from A-G’s Chambers. Not my answer.

    I see your point.

    So don’t worry, I’ll still be around.

    But you’re not going to stand in elections, right?

    What has this got to do with … aiyo … It’s not connected, the question. That’s why when you see me, when someone asks (me a question in Parliament), I stand up and the I look around, because I’m waiting for the answer from the officers. It’s not my answer.

    Are you concerned that your son and his family are being followed?

    I’m a rich man, I’m powerful, good looking. (reporters giggle) Wealthy. So what can I do? My son ask, ‘Pa, is it…’ I say, ‘Look, you are my son.’

    Will you lodge a Police report on your son being followed?

    Why should I? It doesn’t bother me. I’m popular, I have a film star punya status here you know? Celebrity. Bukan film star local, Hollywood punya (laughs). No, but there is nothing I can do, (if) they want to follow.

    And if Rafizi lodges a report with MACC?

    What kind of question it that? He wants to report, he report lah. You know, he’s a clarinet player, he told me in his tweet. In Malay College (Kuala Kangsar), when he (enrolled), I was not around, but those who play the clarinet are jambu, you know. Ni jambu punya style la.


  4. L Y Lim says:

    At last, this fact is being exposed to the world to find out how bad corruption is, in Malaysia. With all the ruling politicians involving in stealing the money from the hard-earned tax-payers. Najib and his cronies, not forgetting his predecessors are not feeling any guilt at all regarding their crimes. If he is sensible enough as an educated men, he should resign in DISGRACE and admit his vices. Return the loot to the people and let an honest and transparent leader to take over. Time for ‘crimes’ cleansing for every dirty politicians including Taib, Mahathir and so forth.Welcome to invest in Malaysia-the fourth most corrupted country in the world.


  5. jacob says:

    The rot started with a certain Doctor M.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Sabah and Sarawak have been robbed by the own and west malaysian leaders.. The money obtained from the timber and oil end up in the wrong pockets and in the building up of Peninsular. Look at the billion dollar highways,buildings, ports and infrastruture in west Malaysia. Billions of ringgit dug out of Sabah and Sarawak are spent on improving the lifestyles of the Peninsular Malaysians. The poor East Malaysians live on untarred village roads, on generators, schools which can be only reached through crocodile infested waters or at times muddy timber tracts. They have been betrayed by their leaders and the peninsulars leaders, helped by unethical govt. servants who put their loyalty in money and power above their belief in GOD by voting in leaders who will put the state and people first.


  7. Joe Fernandez says:

    In Dec 2010, the same month that the World Bank announced in Kota Kinabalu that Sabah and Sarawak were the poorest nations in Malaysia as per EPU and the respective SPU figures, the economy of tiny Singapore overtook Malaysia’s i.e. US$ 210 billion to US$ 205 billion respectively. Since then, the gap has widened, and the Singapore dollar today almost equals the US dollar. Most of the money corruption in Malaysia stems from politicians stealing from the Public Treasury under the guise of bringing development to the people, politicians stealing from the Public Treasury by awarding Government procurements and contracts and tenders at inflated prices to themselves through nominees, politicians getting free money from the Public Treasury — Shahrizat getting RM 250 million is a case in point — to do so-called Bumiputera business, and politicians borrowing from banks and not paying back because the Government steps in with bailouts, bank mergers and the like. There are also other forms of corruption like lawyers cheating clients, doctors doing unnecessary surgeries, various parties running skim cepat kaya, running Ponzi Schemes under the guise of MLM/direct selling and gold investments, loan sharks running amok with the help of the police and the politicians etc etc. The result of the corruption is the National Debt Burden which today stands at RM 600 billion. The ceiling on the National Debt Burden is supposed to be 55 per cent of the GDP which stands today at something like US$ 238 billion.



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