Ronald Benjamin says we have to go back to the ethical roots of spirituality instead of focusing on a superficial, dogmatic and ideological interpretation of religion
The current investigations into 1MDB seem to be a long drawn process with allegations and counter-allegations that seem to be the rule of the day, rather a genuine desire among the authorities to seek the truth in bringing to a close one of the most serious allegations of mismanagement of funds in the nation’s history.
The greatest flaw in this investigation process by the so-called task force is that the Prime Minister, who is responsible for 1MDB fund, is still on duty as finance minister. Is this so-called task force made up by personalities who are perceived to be close and obligated to the regime in power for their positions, capable of presenting whole truth as it is?
Will there be a dilution of truth as a face-saving measure in the high-stakea context of political survival? Will action be taken against the highest office holder if he is found to be connected to the allegation brought against him? It is something that Malaysians need to ponder as the 1MDB drama unfolds.
There is another interesting aspect that reinforces the doubts about the Malaysian authorities and the MACC. The reactive nature of responding to the report from the Wall Street Journal and Sarawak Report reflects the weakened state of institutions in fighting graft in the highest office.
The 1MDB operations have evolved since 2009. Was there any proactive scrutiny among anti-graft officials of the monetary transactions involved? Why do we have to wait for the foreign media to present us with shocking revelations?
There is too much talk about national sovereignty by national leaders or groups related to the Barisan Nasional regime, which are concerned about foreign meddling in the country. Do the champions of national sovereignty realise that developing strong institution that are capable of proactively and professionally dealing with graft at the highest levels, without the help of foreign media, is equally important to national sovereignty?
This is the type of contradiction that has basically put the nation in dilemma and created a sense of great mistrust towards anti-graft institutions that are supposed to be the pillar of truth. One has to go back to the context of the 22 years of authoritarian rule of Dr Mahathir to understand the reasons for the weakened state of our anti-graft institutions.
The question is, are there remedies to this state of affairs in Malaysia? The remedy lies not only in a change of structure or system of governance with its own complexities and web of relations that has preserved the power of the regime, but also in the importance of going back to the ethical roots of spirituality instead of a superficial, dogmatic and ideological presentation of religion.
A spirituality that encounters God creates a decisive moment for renewal of heart, while ideological religion only tends to control and preserve power at all costs in the name of protecting religion and race.
Therefore, going back to our ethical spiritual roots is vital to rebuilding our institutions, in bringing trust back that has been lost due to greed for power and control. This will do great justice to those who are trying their best to do their job in fighting graft, but who are impeded by unethical politicians who tend to preserve power at all costs.