It’s bad enough that the Covid pandemic, which claimed a staggering number of lives and caused health complications for many Malaysians, was exploited by certain quarters desperately seeking political power.
That the pandemic also served as a golden opportunity for the corrupt to benefit from medicine and equipment procurement is abominable.
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Azam Baki recently revealed that some government purchases of medical equipment and medicines during the pandemic had smudges of corruption.
He said that the scandal involved bribery in the procurement of medical services; abuse of power in diverting relief aid and stimulus packages; fraud related to medical protective equipment in terms of its quantity and quality; and bribery of enforcement officers during the movement control order periods.
In other words, there were people who fraudulently profited from the suffering of Malaysians, the survival of whom was dependent on immediate and adequate medical care.
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It appears that the temptation to commit corruption had become so overwhelming for some people in our society that they became desensitised to the plight of Covid sufferers and their loved ones.
Such horrendous acts, as rightly demanded by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and DAP secretary general Anthony Loke, necessitate the disclosure of the identities of the people and government agencies involved.
We hope the silence on the matter among certain political quarters does not suggest acquiescence on their part.
Daylight robbery deserves the condemnation of all right-thinking Malaysians because public funds, already scarce, should be used for the medical treatment of ordinary people and not to line the pockets of the unscrupulous.
Taxpayers have seen enough of their hard-earned money being carted away over the years for no other reason than to enrich the undeserving.
It is scandalous when we recall the Covid patients who had to be turned away from public hospitals during the pandemic owing to a lack of beds and equipment, while some of frontline medical workers did not have adequate personal protective equipment. As a result, some doctors and nurses had to make do with what they had to save lives at the risk of their own.
It cannot be overemphasised that Malaysians would like to see the authorities take stern action against corruption. Punishment for such criminal acts is crucial because much is at stake, particularly the integrity of public institutions.
The misconduct of certain quarters in the civil service had given a bad name to the entire body, which is obviously unfair to those in the service who are still committed to honest and hard work. In short, the latter unfairly gets tarred with the same brush.
A civil service that is tainted with corruption would have an uphill task to earn public trust and respect, and to protect its integrity. This unhealthy trend must be bucked.
There is clearly no honour in government officials taking money on the side, as claimed by Azam, and such misdeeds become all the more morally revolting when ordinary Malaysians were at their most vulnerable in the face of the Covid scourge.
Corruption, like Covid and its variants, must be contained for the sake of the nation and our moral standing. – The Malaysian Insight