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What is corruption?
From the website of Transparency International comes this elegant definition: Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.

Corruption comes in all guises in Malaysia. Those that have been arrested and go through the court are usually small frys except for one or two big ones like the current trial of Ling Liong Sik the ex- Federal Minister of Transport in the PKFZ land scandal and the ex Menteri Besar (Chief Minister ) of Selangor, Khir Toyo in his mansion purchase.

We need the present government leadership to also focus on ministers and other politicians in its war against corruption. PM Najib please translate your anti-corruption mission into concrete action. Going hard after the likes of Teoh Beng Hock for RM2k corruption shows a misplaced resolve.All politicians and government servants living beyond their means should be investigated.

PM Najib-walk the talk please.

To reflect on the perceived systematic nature of this social disease I would like to re-post the thought of one commentator on an online news portal following the revelation by American cables through Wikileaks on corruption at high levels in Malaysia.

“Quote”
Fed-up says:

For all those that comment here regarding corruption
Be it good or bad comments
I will stake my life on the fact that at some time or another
In our daily lives we have had to pay someone to do something for us
Not a day goes by when
IF we want something “fast tracked”
We have to pay for it in some way shape or form
IF the ACA (MACC) is really interested
I will stand up in a court of law and swear, corruption is rampant in Malaysia
Corruption is rampant in all government departments
From the clerk that takes your file and the office boy that passes it on
To the pegawai (officer) that is going to sign off on it
They ALL expect to get paid to fast track anything that needs to be done
Get caught by the police ….. boleh selasai ka (Can we solve it) …. yes boleh (can)
Want your container cleared from the port
All it takes is 300RM to have it out and cleared by day’s end
Go to the Motor Vehicle department (JPJ)
Even if your vehicle in NOT road worthy when inspected
That’s ok, just place enough RM in the ash tray and it’s “passed”
Drivers license, it’s the same, pay and you pass
Do you want to get approval for any project
Yes, boleh, IF you are wiling to grease the palms of the right people
Yes, let’s jumpa (meet) later at a Hotel coffee shop and business is done
So much so, that the approval is hand delivered to you after hours
Do you want to meet a Menteri at Putrajaya for a photo opportunity
Pay the right person and it’s a done deal
Or you could go to Putrajaya and wait for an appointment that never comes
I could go on and on …
So, for all those bleeding hearts out there
Those high and mighty ones that think Malaysia is corruption free
Think again “.

Unquote

I agree with him/her that we do have a relatively rampant corruption in this country. I must say I am emphatic with Fed up as I absolutely abhor corruption. And I wonder whether there is a special fatwa against it to make it really a great sin among the Muslim. Though I must say there are government servants and politicians who are not corrupt and unfortunately this kind is taken for granted and have seldom been given due recognition. They seem to be the exception rather than the rule in Malaysia. The more the people appear religious-centric in their Middle-eastern garbs and their words, the more corrupt they are, right to the top. As they say the fish rots from the bloody head!

Whilst measures are being taken to eliminate this scourge, we look up to the political will to sustain this noble effort. We need to tackle corruption at every nook and crannies of society, at all levels both government,the private sector and non-governmental organisations including charitable ones. It is important that the fight against corruption is led by people of integrity. People who occupy the seats of political power and potentially able to inspire a whole generation of citizens to loathe corruption. Unfortunately it looks like we, at least I, have been dreaming.

There is a special breed of corruption at the highest decision-making level in this country as noted by the American diplomatic cables revealed by Wikileaks. The headline in an online news portal read “Malaysian procurement system riddled with corruption, says US cable” “http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/malaysian-procurement-system-riddled-with-corruption. These are the very people who talk about fighting against corruption and yet they indulge in the practice with glee and dare I say, without conscience?

So these public officials entrusted with power take 30% as commission in the purchase of defence equipment and that, my dear friends, is exactly the amount being up by the successful contractor and what should have cost say 1m becomes 1.3m and who pays for that? You and I, the tax payers. Our money and the State’s money from our resources like oil is used to fatten up the corrupt. May they and their families rot in this world! Such is the disappointment and frustration at these bloody greedy scumbags.

I remember the previous PM Abdullah Badawi talking so much about an open tender system and transparency, the end of negotiated tenders and establishing an Institute of Integrity to combat corrupt practices and yet he was the one engaging in this practice through his sister-in-law according to the news report. Or doesn’t he know that using his position as the Prime Minister for his relative to gain financially is a form of corruption? Perhaps he doesn’t know, being a graduate of Islamic Studies, he probably thinks that money needs to be physically given to his sister-in-law before you can call it corruption. Haven’t we been taken for a ride by this sleepyhead PM!

Ex-PM Abdullah Badawi-And we thought he was Mr Clean

Other people in this special breed of corrupt public officials are in the seat of power and at the pedestal of political decisions and public policy. How do they expect the rakyat (citizens) and the pegawai kerajaan (civil servant) not to indulge in the same practice when the latter knows what their leaders are up to? I am reminded of the Malay proverb “Seperti ketam mengajar anaknya berjalan lurus“? or a crab teaching its progeny to walk straight as we know a crab moves by zigzagging sideways. Or is this a question of “Do as I preach and not as I do?”. Have our leaders then succumbed to the proverbial moral abyss?

This high level corruption is hard to bring to book. Just look at how virtually impossible it is for MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Council) to investigate Taib Mahmud, the long-serving and corrupt Sarawak Chief Minister despite the Swiss government’s freezing of his vast assets allegedly procured through corruption. What more to investigate the ex-PM, the serving politicians and the current PM ?. Only through a drastic change of government could you undertake this massive spring cleaning exercise. But I bet there would be a do or die efforts by the existing serving politicians to stay in power and continue their corrupt lifestyle. Money politics will be the order of the day: an entrenched corrupt party culture..

Anna Hazare- an anti-corruption champion in India

It is both interesting and ironic to note that in China, the leader of CPC (Communist Party of China), Hu Jintao maintains that for the party to remain in power, it must fight and fight corruption hard. Yes, they shoot corrupt officials there! And in India, we have people-backed Anna Hazare, the epitome of the anti-corrupt, to virtually force the government to revise its anti-corruption bill to make it more stringent for public officials including ministers. Where are our anti-corruption champions?

Hu Jintao fights corruption to remain in power

To expose high level corruption we rely on external agencies such as Transparency International and other concerned foreign governmental authorities; that is more towards naming and shaming rather than penalising the perpetrators through a legal process.

Unless our wayward public officials appreciate and internalise that material wealth gathered through corruption is morally wrong and achieved at the cost to the society, they will continue to enrich their relatives and friends while they are still in power. I wonder what they say in their daily prayers- thank you God I got 30% commission (bribe) today? What a sickening thought!

The ordinary folks would not generally understand the repercussions of these despicable practices on their everyday life.Indeed there can be no fairness without transparency and neither can there be justice without integrity.

We as the citizens must be alert and say “no” to corruption at all levels so that systematic pervasive government corruption will not take roots in Malaysia and let us guard her from plunging into destructive and baffling social problems as noted in some countries by Transparency International.

May the will of the people prevail.

Let me just re-post the disturbing Malaysian Insider news below:

Malaysian procurement system riddled with corruption, says US cable
Malaysian Insider, September 09, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — The seedy and allegedly corrupt side of Malaysia’s defence procurement has been laid bare in a US embassy cable, with startling revelations on how Umno politicians, agents, civil servants and military officials receive 30 per cent “commission” on deals.

In a note on the opaque procurement system here revealed by whistleblower site Wikileaks, the US embassy noted that American companies operating here had three main complaints about the system: the lack of transparency, outright corruption, and Bumiputera requirements.

The undated cable sent during the Abdullah administration between 2004 and 2009 also noted that many government tenders do not follow procurement rules.

"Pohdah!!" -(Tamil expletive is credited to blog author).

A US aerospace executive told the US embassy here defence deals were done through shadowy agreements with no tendering process. For example, the then-Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s (picture) sister-in-law arranged a US$400 million (RM1.2 billion) contract to buy military cargo aircraft from Airbus.

The deal was announced following Abdullah’s return from a trip to France.

“The US executive asserted that PM Abdullah’s brother told him this deal was ‘done for political and other reasons, such as commission’,” noted the US embassy cable made public through Wikileaks.

Similar scenarios were described for the procurement of T91 Polish tanks and SU-30 Russian aircraft, noted the executive, who also said that once someone purporting to work for then-Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak approached him about a deal and suggested “you will get a part of it.”

The US embassy noted that Malaysian political parties including Umno rely on “money politics” for much of their operating funds.

“Projects or tenders often are awarded as political patronage with a cut of funds circulating back to the party through different channels,” noted the embassy.

These revelations come at a time when there has been some scrutiny surrounding the deal to buy Scorpene submarine. More than RM500 million was allegedly paid to a local consulting company Perimekar and the opposition has pointed fingers at Najib who was the defence minister when the deal was inked.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) politicians have also questioned the inflated costs of several new defence deals announced by current Defence Minister Datuk Zahid Hamidi.

The US embassy noted that lack of transparency was also evident when it came to awarding contracts in the information communication technology (ICT) sector. A manager at a US ICT firm pointed out that it was shortlisted for a tender with Telekom Malaysia Bhd but lost to another company that did not even bid for the contract.

Though the cable was sent during the Abdullah administration, there is little evidence that the procurement system has improved. Anecdotal evidence suggests that lip service is paid to open tender system with the preferred choice being direct negotiation.

This trend is especially true for large contracts and concessions where politically-connected companies are involved.

The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that a consortium led by 1MDB and Puncak Niaga have been given the greenlight by the government to buy IWK for RM1. The consortium will assume the debts of RM1.5 billion but will obtain a concession for 60 years.

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