The controversy surrounding Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency chief sparked a protest rally in Kuala Lumpur on 22 January.
Hundreds of activists and other Malaysians rallied to call for decisive action against Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Azam Baki. They demanded that he resign over his alleged large shareholdings.
Azam had claimed his brother used his account to buy millions worth of shares in two listed companies in 2015.
How does the MACC chief explain that?
News then emerged that Malaysia had dropped five rungs to 62nd spot out of 180 countries, in Transparency International’s latest global anti-corruption ranking.
Actually, 62nd spot is miraculous, given that many feel Malaysia’s ranking should be a lot lower, given how corrupt the government is!
This ‘drop’ has reportedly moved the MACC to look at the index more seriously. But must there be a drop in the corruption index before the authorities act? Will this get the Securities Commission and the MACC to probe the allegations against Azam more thoroughly?
The public are sometimes urged to report and expose any wrongdoings. So it is not wrong for concerned citizens to protest and use social media to speak out against corruption.
However, the response of the powers that be shows clearly they frown upon demonstrations. The police have hauled up those behind the recent protest rally.
There is no transparency. What is the perception of the public towards the judicial system? How were we to react when high-profile personalities facing corruption charges were acquitted or discharged, even though there seemed to be strong grounds that enabled charges to be filed in the first place? Has the Attorney General’s Chambers satisfactorily clarified to the public why these charges were dropped or why some of the prominent accused were acquitted?
Then there are the questionable appointments of politicians to head government-linked companies. Many of them have no relevant experience or skill sets to head those companies. Sadly, these appointments appear as rewards, a kind of quid pro quo.
Meanwhile, the corruption trials of Najib Razak and Zahid Hamidi plod on like a never-ending saga. Their teams of lawyers have been ‘creative’ in delaying proceedings. In Najib’s case, the latest is they are roping in a Queen’s Counsel from the UK to boost their defence team.
But why a QC now? Why didn’t Najib employ one from the beginning? Will his chances of staying out of jail be enhanced with a QC in the ranks? Or is it because his lawyer, Muhammed Shafee Abdullah, has woes regarding unpaid taxes with the Inland Revenue Board?
Zahid has been ordered to answer to 47 counts of criminal breach of trust, bribery and money laundering involving funds from Yayasan Akalbudi.
How long will this trial go on for? Will he also need a QC? These cases go back to 2018 and it is now 2022, and the public are still waiting for a verdict. Will the cause of justice really be served in both these cases?
Will corruption ever end in Malaysian politics? I doubt it will, as this is the only way many of them know how to govern. It is a way of life here: if you want something done, make sure you have the money!
All this talk of transparency and reform is just talk because nobody is bold enough or brave enough to push for these reforms. Corruption reeks at all levels because it is embedded in political and government institutions.
The country’s endless corruption is a symptom of a deeper malaise in society. This is the sad truth about Malaysian politics. It is the survival of the fittest – or how much money one has, as I have been told.
All politicians have their own agenda. Hence, truth, honesty, integrity, justice, humanity and ethics are often just words they use to suit the situation. Sadly, they pull out these words like so much political fluff, especially when their parties are gearing up for elections.
Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time