Home Aliran CSI Aliran CSI 2016 Where is Umno’s sense of conscience?

Where is Umno’s sense of conscience?

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When a leader is ready to sacrifice the nation and its ideals, his party and its conscience, then the end is a matter of time, writes K Haridas.

It was interesting to read that the MACC has now detained another government officer with millions in his bank account. The account has since been frozen.

This is the same MACC that cleared MO1 of nearly RM2.6bn in his account. Not only that but one amongst those responsible for clearing him from the attorney general’s department is now the chief commissioner of MACC.

I suppose different rules apply depending on your status and position. Was the promotion an expression of gratitude? It is this type of behaviour that promotes cynicism amongst many about the seriousness with which corruption is tackled in the nation. The appointment was a further insult to the MACC. Mr Chief Commissioner, if you are sincere, then take on MO1 and show your sense of commitment.

As chairman of the Business Ethics Institute of Malaysia, I sat on the board of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy. The appointment was from the chief secretary of the government, and this was an honour for the BEIM.

But having however lost confidence in the level of seriousness displayed by the government in tackling corruption, I resigned. To continue would have been to condone what was going on. It was only appropriate that someone from within the MACC should have been promoted to the position.

Daily, we hear news and accounts internationally relating to the 1MDB fiasco. A number of international banks have been closed. Evidence given in an ongoing case in Singapore points to the scale of the fraud and exploitation, and just shocks us.

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Yet in Malaysia, has any board member, the adviser and others mentioned as MO2, MO3 and other officials been called to account? The US Department of Justice has clearly enumerated in its 166-page report evidence relating to wide-scale money laundering of funds belonging to the nation.

Why the deafening silence?

While people in power and position can use their status to protect themselves as seen in this case, what disappoints me is that no one in the establishment sees any wrong. So many good people who know and understand the situation just keep quiet.

One minister who stepped down had the guts to raise questions as did the former deputy president and a vice president of Umno. A senior journalist resigned from the New Straits Times because he could not continue under the present circumstances.

Why do many more people not make a stand on issues so important and critical to the nation’s well being? To continue in silence is to condone and the time will come when they will themselves realise that they have sold their souls under the guise of loyalty to an individual. Surely there are higher loyalties such as to one’s nation, the Constitution, one’s conscience and to God. As is often said, ‘It is enough for good people to remain silent for evil to triumph’.

In today’s individualistic world, is it all about I, Me, Myself first and then everything else thereafter? It is amazing that Umno members do not even realise that they are now participating in the early demise of their party. What is a party without a conscience and a purpose beyond ethnicity? If still they choose to remain, then the end is not too far.

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You may be a graduate from Oxford or Melbourne University or for that matter from any university, yet what is the value of your degree and qualifications if you continue to condone what is so blatantly wrong? A sea of people came out for Bersih 5 and made a statement. If the authorities continue to close their eyes to reality, then they will be in for a shock.

What is the point of winning elections and losing the popular vote? How can individuals and parties continue with gerrymandering to win power? In a country where there is so much consciousness about things being ‘halal’, are our elections credible if such practices are condoned?

Change comes from within

Just as justice used selectively is justice denied, similarly religion applied selectively is unfair to what that religion represents. We need to call out such hypocrisy.

This is the same for all believers whatever their faith. Is your belief a mere garment for you to wear and remove as appropriate? Or does your belief embody you with moral standards and values, principles and convictions which help engender an enlightened conscience that gives clarity to the issues that challenge us today?

Beliefs if they do not inspire an inner transformation or fresh realisations are mere platitudes to impress others.

Lasting change ultimately comes from within. Neither hudud nor an increase in punishment in terms of whipping, lashing or cutting hands will change an individual from within. There may be an element of fear but lasting change comes from the impact good role models and mentors provide.

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It has to be learning from within. Otherwise, harsh laws project cruelty and a lack of compassion in today’s context. Punishments cannot replace good role models, and Pas must address this singular failure for all their talk and preaching.

As is said, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary” (Reinhold Niebuhr). When such democratic principles are not practised within Umno as a party and office holders can be dismissed with impunity, the lack of practice and substance become evident for all to see. And then individuals from this party speak about moderation and democracy in our country?

So much gain is linked to being associated with the party leader. The cronies who sing songs in his praise are honoured with promotions. Others are just silent and through their silence condone what is being done.

In the end, whether it is a a Marcos or a Suharto, Estrada or Mobutu, the time will come when such self-enriching leaders meet their end in power. These kleptocrats survive because many keep them alive, blinded by their own self-interest and the I-Me-Mine syndrome. What say you, Paul Low, the Minister for Integrity?

When a leader is ready to sacrifice the nation and its ideals, his party and its conscience, then the end is a matter of time. So great is the scandal and so international is its outreach that the 1MDB debacle will swallow many in its last chapter. Then there will be many who will regret not standing up for their faith, convictions, their party and the nation.

Where is Umno’s sense of conscience?

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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K Haridas, an Aliran executive committee member, is the current honorary secretary of the Business Ethics Institute of Malaysia, chairperson of the Association For The Promotion Of Higher Education In Malaysia and chairperson of the Malaysian chapter of Initiatives of Change International.
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