Only then will it be able to shed its arrogance and look beyond the narrow politics of race and ethnicity, says P Ramakrishnan.
I have never felt as optimistic as I do today. Tonight’s forum has a great significance for me and for all those rooting for change. Five years ago, on this day, Malaysians shed their fear and stood up for their rights. As a result, we had the tsunami of 8 March 2008!
That tsunami would have brought about a change at the federal level as well if the GE12 had been free and fair. We were robbed of a well-deserved victory because the Barisan Nasional, the National Registration Department and the Election Commission colluded and plotted together to frustrate the aspirations of the people.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry set up to study the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah has revealed startling conspiracies to steal the election. Thousands upon thousands of MyKads were given to those who were not citizens with strict orders to vote for the BN. When a Prime Minister was part of this diabolical plot to pervert our democracy, it is appalling and truly disgusting.
Reeking with corruption
What was done was clearly an outright abuse of power. As you know, an abuse of power constitutes corruption. Corruption is criminal but this vile act of corruption is part and parcel of the BN government.
The BN is reeking with corruption but continues to be in power simply because the apparatus of government are under the thumb of the executive.
This abuse of power was responsible for the toppling of a legitimately elected government in Perak. This abuse of power was responsible for the immigration records of Altantuya to disappear. This same abuse of power caused the death of Altantuya.
Likewise the abuse of power caused numerous deaths under police custody. It is the same abuse of power that caused the killings of so many people under suspicious circumstances.
There are numerous instances of abuse of power but no one has paid for it in the manner they deserve to be punished. As long as this government is in power, the perpetrators of these crimes are unlikely to be brought to book.
The rot in the government stinks to high heaven.
PM implicated in the death of Altantuya
What hope is there when the Prime Minister himself is implicated in the death of Altantuya, accused of accepting millions of ringgit for facilitating the transfer of land without going through the proper process of the law and does nothing to defend his honour or clear his name? Deepak the carpet man has openly stated the PM’s involvement; PI Bala has a sworn affidavit that has exposed the darker side of the PM. Why isn’t he taking these individuals to court as a matter of honour?
When the PM fails to act he brings shame to the nation. He embarrasses us. We don’t deserve to be humiliated. But that’s what happens when our national leader and Prime Minister refuses to go to court to establish his innocence.
Is it any wonder that corruption is so pervasive in our country? When the top man is implicated in corruption what example of moral conduct is there to inspire and motivate others to lead a clean life?
Hanky-panky in PM’s Dept?
On 15 February 2010, the Malaysian Mirror under the heading “Hanky-panky in PM’s Dept?” reported that RM2 million was stashed at an apartment occupied by a political secretary to a minister in the PM’s department. The apartment is located at Teluk Air Tawar, Butterworth. This was the transit home for the minister’s staff. The money was stacked in bundles of 5, 10, 50 and 100 ringgit notes.
Where did this huge sum of money come from? How was it acquired and for what purpose? Is this apartment the holding place for ill-gotten money?
Let’s look at another issue. Nobody seems to have an answer as to how a hospital that is being built in Shah Alam under alarming circumstances. The cost of this 300-bed hospital has escalated from the original allocation of RM300 million to the current cost of RM500 million.
As a result of this scandalous escalation in cost, each bed is calculated to cost 1,679,000 ringgit!
The cost is so ridiculous that Transparency International-Malaysia president Paul Low has questioned whether the contract was awarded through a fair and open tender process.
“Were there submissions by other contractors? Did the PWD evaluate the submitted tenders in an objective and professional manner? Was the awarding of the project made in keeping with best practices and in the interests of the public?” Low asked.
You can go on asking questions but you are not going to get any answer!
Cost balloons to RM5 billion!
Now, let’s move on to another scandal. The cost of the new KLIA2 “low-cost” airport has ballooned to a shocking RM5 billion, as revealed by Tony Pua. The initial budget for the airport when it was first announced by Dato’ Seri Ong Tee Keat, the then Transport Minister in July 2007 was only RM1.7 billion.
But subsequently the budget was increased to RM2.0 billion in March 2009 and then to RM2.5 billion in October 2010. At the end of last year, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) shocked Malaysians by disclosing that the cost of the new airport had ballooned to RM3.9 billion due to cost overruns in November 2011. Hence the new estimated cost of KLIA2 of RM5 billion is now nearly 300 per cent above the original budget of RM1.7 billion.
There are many more examples of corruption. The BN government, it seems, is plundering the country and squandering the wealth of the nation. This is why the BN must go!
Umno – cause of our miseries
But realistically speaking, we must not fault the BN. The component parties in the BN are voiceless without any clout. It is Umno that is the cause of all our miseries. It is Umno’s policies that eventually become BN policies.
All that the component parties can do is to go along with the Umno policies. Even when the policies are not acceptable to them, they have no guts to oppose or reject these policies. After all, in the end, they must look after their interests first even if it meant sacrificing the interests of the community that they are supposed to be representing.
Let’s take the simple issue involving the members of their community who are stateless in spite of being born in this country. They are stateless through the ignorance of their parents who failed to register their children at birth. Couldn’t this be sorted out through common sense and by exercising some compassion to release them from their misery? Couldn’t these leaders exert some pressure on Umno to solve this matter especially when illegal immigrants can become instant citizens? What’s the problem?
The other day, some 50 stateless Indians protested outside the National Registration Department along Anson Road in Penang. One of them was an Indian lady, 94 years old. She is older than Mahathir. Both of them were born before Merdeka. After Merdeka, Mahathir became a citizen and a Bumiputra but this poor lady continues to be stateless even up to today. This is gross injustice!
Umno grabs national assets
Umno has become so greedy that it grabs national assets without any qualms. It simply helps itself to what doesn’t belong to it because no one is there to challenge and question Umno.
It has been exposed how land was transferred to crony companies and party supporters at ridiculously low price. Deepak has revealed how Selangor Umno Wanita chief Raja Ropiaah Abdullah benefited immensely from such a deal involving 223 acres of land and how he was played out after forking out millions of ringgit for a deal that was meant to benefit him. The land was apparently transferred by Najib who was then the defence minister without the proper process of the law.
Likewise, other pieces of land have been unlawfully transferred to those who are close to the leadership. In all these dealings, the ordinary, deserving poor Malays get nothing. In the name of the Malay community, the select few grow rich and benefit the most at the expense of the poor Malays.
Recently there was a report in Free Malaysia Today with the headline: “World champion of corruption.”
In part, the report stated, “Transparency International, ANI Washington, Hindustan Times and WSJ Live, to name a few, have all bestowed Malaysia the dubious honour of Champion of Corruption.”
The report concluded with these words, “Congratulations Najib. The whole world now knows you are leading the most corrupt nation on earth.”
Friends, we have ‘been humiliated and shamed by the international community wholesale’.
Umno must pay the price for this in the next elections. It must be defeated wherever possible and reduced to the role of opposition for its own good. Only then it will be able to shed its arrogance and look beyond the narrow politics of race and ethnicity. Only then will there be reformation within the party to purge itself of all the negative elements and transform itself to a respectable party.