In Malaysia, corruption is a team effort

By Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz

Why does our country find it so objectionable to kick out the crooks and the stupid?

For corruption to take place, you must have two important elements – you must be a crook and mental dud.

It will therefore take paramount political will by a leadership and a messianic zeal to stem corruption to succeed. In our country, the only answer is a change in leadership.

As former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said, the whole country, from top to bottom, is corrupt.

I take that to mean, Dr Mahathir also includes the prime minister.

Money changing hands – that’s bribery plain and simple. The businessmen who pay the aides to the prime minister and deputy prime minister monthly allowances, engages in bribery.

The politician who pays Najib’s people to always say good things about the former so that he continues to be minister or chief minister, does a bribery number.

Where the money involved runs into hundreds of millions and even billions, the bribery reaches a more sophisticated level.

Manipulating records and numbers

In one of my conversations with The Oracle of Syed Putera (who incidentally is the alter ego of former economic adviser Daim Zainuddin), I asked: “How was it that the double-tracking project originally given to China Railways and which was endorsed by the federal Cabinet was rescinded?

“How did it come to the state, when Cabinet revised its earlier decision and in light of new ‘data and information’, the project was taken away from China Railways and given to China Harbours?

“Who provided new data and information? Who directed the provider of the information to submit new evidence?”

Any layman would think, China Harbours is a company expert in doing harbours and China Railways in rail lines. The proper thing is to give it to China Railways.

The Oracle was very matter-of-fact when he replied: “Because huge sums of money have changed hands.”

He must have meant the manipulation of facts and figures and methods to allow the switch in decisions.

Appointing a project management consultant that deducts points from the track record of China Harbours to make it look unqualified and extolling the virtues of another competitor, is corruption of a more sophisticated level.

It means that the level of corruption here in Malaysia takes a network of like-minded people to work. In Malaysia corruption is a team effort.

Government has credibility problems

These teams are running wild in this government. This government is suffering from a serious credibility problem.

Every purchase, contract and project that it dishes out is never free from suspicions of financial improprieties.

Every damn business decision involving, for example, even government-linked companies or any companies linked to the government is not above shiftiness.

We haven’t got answers about allegations surrounding the (Sime Darby and) E&O business (which allegedly involved insider trading by the E&O chairman, who incidentally is the husband to the Securities Commission chief, Zarinah Anwar).

We haven’t got answers behind the questionable MAS-AirAsia deal.

Also Mahathir wants the Proton shares to be sold, and he already has the buyer in mind.

Mahathir’s method is akin to the Henry Ford method: you can have any colour as long as it’s black.

Hence, you can sell to anyone as long as it’s DRB and Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary (whom Wikipedia lists as “the richest Bumiputera corporate figure in Malaysia with involvement in diversified business areas including transport and logistics, plantations, property development, defence and armoury as well as engineering and power generation. He has a net worth of about US$1.7 billion (according to Forbes).

It seems that politicians are coming out with all sorts of projects and purchases in order to make money on the side.

Everyone seems to be on it. Perhaps one day, the identity of these people will be published so that people can get heart attacks going through the gallery of rogues.

The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman and a FMT columnist.

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