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1MDB and the conspiracy of silence

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Those who remain a part of this ‘conspiracy of silence’ convict themselves – for they have failed to stand up when the nation needed their ‘guts’, writes K Haridas.

How is it that a nation that will soon be celebrating its 60th anniversary of independence can be in its present state of affairs for so long?

The prestige and respect of the nation has taken a serious dent with the continuing 1MDB affair. Although there are Malaysians who are crying out for justice and accountability, it all seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

We must in one sense be grateful – for this shows us, as nothing else can, the fashion and decoration that exhibits the status of our democracy. ‘Kleptocracy’ is an apt description.

Yet for a nation that is so sensitive to the use of the term Allah, that exhibits the need for ‘halal’ in more ways than one, the key question remains, where is the moral compass of those in power and position?

Money Power

Obviously, while the Rukunegara, the national ideology, speaks about ‘”belief in God”’ as its first pillar, the prevailing thinking seems to be “belief in Money”. This seems to be the singular driving force that keeps the ruling party in power.

From the Mahathir era till now, Money Power has been a scourge. The current prime minister has taken the whole issue of Money Power to new heights, worthy of an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

Money seems to be the solvent for all issues in this nation. The civil service is silent as are the the armed forces, the judiciary, the executive and the legislature. When one looks at the scale at which money has been laundered, so many institutions have been cowed into silence.

Why are so many educated and well trained individuals keeping silent? Umno stalwarts are themselves active only in the periphery. At least one actor who has been part of the beginnings of such deals now seems to have seen the light. At least he is speaking up and expressing his convictions.

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Those at the heart of this scandal continue to live their lives exhibiting unashamed greed and lavishness. Too many perhaps have taken money that they do not have the moral courage and spine to take a stand. They are people of all faiths, and you find them in the whole BN spectrum and in the cabinet. The crisis is so serious yet silence seems to be the best option for those in the establishment. Why?

Those who know would rather keep silent – for their future promotions, appointments to GLCs, and titles could all be affected. So the conspiracy of silence continues.

Even a religiously motivated party like Pas is infected, and hence their glaring silence. What is the use of faith devoid of values and a moral compass? It loses its dynamic and what is left is a whole array of beliefs worthy only of exhibition.

Money buys silence

Then the focus suddenly turns to the Bank Negara forex scandal almost three decades ago. Why has this suddenly been resurrected? The many actors yet remain and it will show the same weaknesses that continue to infect our regulatory systems – the lack of courageous leadership. This lack continues till today whether it is in Bank Negara, the Parliamentary Accounts Committee, the Attorney General’s Chambers or the office of the inspector general of police.

The glaring lack of leadership within the establishment is a sign of the infection that has spread. Money has bought silence. Take a stand, and your filth will be exposed. Where are the people with clean hands? The continuing response from the cronies to defend the indefensible stinks – but so many tolerate this stench.

How can you have a minister for integrity and accommodate such filth? There must be something terribly wrong. Is it money, position, loyalty, power or pension that keeps an individual in such a compromised environment? Just like the forex scam of earlier years, there will come a day when this also will be investigated.

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When this happens there will be many who will be discredited. The time to stand up and be counted is now. There is nothing more valuable that one’s integrity. Where are the Malaysians who will put their country before themselves from amongst the executive, the legislature, the judiciary and the other institutions of governance? Where is our ‘Cabinet of Conscience’?

One had great hopes in Pemandu, Pemudah, the Institute of Integrity Malaysia, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, and the National Audit Department. Now that we are able to glean from Sarawak Report issues allegedly raised by the auditor general, one can well understand why his report is kept under wraps using the Official Secrets Act.

In this age of technology and digital communications, the facts can be traced back and duly substantiated. One is just amazed to read about the huge amount paid to a lawyer who was appointed prosecutor in the Anwar Ibrahim trial.

To paint the picture that he did this as official service and received a pittance in return is to lie to the public in the same way that we were sold a lie that a large donation was given by a member of the Saudi royalty. Lies, lies and lies – by people who believe performing another religious ritual would cleanse them.

Money Power seems to be the solvent that bends spines, that purchases the souls and the conscience of the many who should otherwise stand up in the interest of the nation. Well, with billions of ringgit to dish out, it seems to be only a matter of price.

Selling their souls

But we have reached a stage in the revelations by the US Department of Justice and Sarawak Report that shows that this money is from embezzled funds.

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What is even more alarming is that the ‘first couple’ continues with their lifestyle, unaffected by any sense of shame or conscience. Where have we reached as a nation, as a people when such things can happen here in Malaysia?

Daily newspaper reports by respected international media continue to hurt the credibility of the nation in the eyes of the world. The day of reckoning will come, and it is a matter of time. How long before justice is restored to the heart of this nation?

We do not need an external enemy, as we have a whole bunch of cronies who just look but do not see, people who are most interested in what they can squeeze from this situation. Many have sold their souls and their conscience and have rationalised that they can do little but persevere with the status quo.

These are times when patriotism and love for nation and the constitution should take precedence. Mere faith and good intentions are not adequate. There must be a critical mass of individuals who will call a spade a spade. There is a price to be paid, and just letting things go as they are will not be an option for progress.

Unbridled greed, materialism and self-interest keeps many from speaking out and taking a stand. This is the time to clarify our own convictions and what we stand for and the non-negotiable content of our character.

Ultimately, those who remain a part of this ‘conspiracy of silence’ convict themselves – for they have failed to stand up when the nation needed their ‘guts’.

When those in power, position and privilege from the top down to the person on the street fail to take a stand, then our common failure adds to the continued exploitation and misuse of power. We eventually legitimise the actions of crooks by our silence.

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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