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Imagine how the missing billions could have helped the poor

Homeless people queue up at a soup kitchen in KL - File picture

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How can we look a homeless person or orphan in the eye and say that we have protected them, writes Dominic Damian.

Why do some writers care to write? We write for the broken bonds of humanity, even those beyond our shores. We write about the tears of the voiceless who still weep from impoverishment in different forms.

Even when clothed in comfort, our thoughts are still exposed and naked in quiet, lonely moments. Sometimes doubts and guilt, even heartbreak, linger – due to our lack of courage in speaking out. Or we might feel that we have not sacrificed enough or gone through the trauma of the afflicted about whom we write: the shadows were seductive, providing safe refuge for us from the raging conflicts in the world outside.

A Sarawak Report article (30 June 2018) about the ex-prime minister allegedly having a huge sum stashed away raises disturbing questions. This is especially so in light of a Merdeka Center survey which found that just 1% of Umno members considered “honesty and trustworthiness” of importance in the party’s future leadership.

To think that over four million voters voted for BN. We must assume that the contamination from just one party has spread – to such an extent that so many people see nothing wrong with less than honest and trustworthy leaders.

What honour is there in prosecuting suspects for breach of trust without dissecting the whole saga to find out what really happened and how it came to pass. The real crime is not in the deception. The real cruelty lies it how billions of ringgit were diverted when it could have been used for so much good.

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It is painful: we can’t look a homeless person or orphan in the eye and say that we have protected them. Think of how these funds could have been used to uplift the lives of so many poor citizens, the Orang Asli, indigenous communities, the uneducated, cancer patients dying much earlier for lack of better treatment and many others.

What an incalculable loss. How anyone could condone such plunder that diverted funds from those who most needed it is mind-boggling. What about the other BN component parties and Pas? Do their members value trustworthiness and honesty in leadership?

The corruption that has contaminated the nation deserves deep soul-searching to find out how it originated. How did it get embedded in the arteries of the nation? We may never have all the answers but to search within is itself an act of dignity.

The seeds of corruption are usually found in a system in which the leader or government has unchecked powers including the ability to dismantle and tamper with institutions with impunity. That is when corrosive culture becomes a norm.

In such a situation, nothing is sacred – from the nobility to the cream of religious leaders and politicians whether in Parliament, state assemblies and town councils. The belief is that everyone has a price.

A slew of reforms are needed. The fifth estate – ordinary citizens – must be empowered and well represented to prevent abuse. No ifs, buts or what ifs – we already know that vulnerabilities exist in the current system. Change and advancement are inevitable.

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To some of those in the opposition: your ex-president or ex-prime minister is facing quite a few charges locally and internationally. Do not ask why we can’t like you just a little? You are partly responsible for the nation’s predicament – and there is a gaping hole in our heart leaving an irreversible, irretrievable trust deficit. You are in an unenviable and embarrassing position.

Truly worthy politicians ought to be imbibed with the highest values that are well accepted by the widest cross segment of society. Does the present opposition have the courage to accept and promote the highest ideals or are they going to act like the goon who used a four-letter word?

Or is the opposition’s main draw one of diversion and division? If so, there is not much hope for them. They have to do something dramatic to change; otherwise we would be writing about a terminally ill patient who refused to acknowledge the cause of his ailment.

The BN should realise they are no longer feudal chiefs whose hands we should kiss.

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