FRANCIS PAUL SIAH
COMMENT For me, the Malaysiakini story of the month should go to “Justice gone wrong: Jailed for graft, ex-magistrate shares his story” published on Feb 5.
What a refreshing piece it was. For the first time for as long as I can remember, here is a former key official of the court admitting publicly that “I was a corrupt magistrate”.
When was the last time we heard of a genuine repentant who openly conceded that he had been a corrupt civil servant and that he was truly remorseful for his many misdeeds while in the service?
Here’s a shout-out for the writer, Faisal Asyraf, for penning the piece. I consider it one of a kind. Good job, Faisal.
On that very day itself, Feb 5, I posted this message on Facebook: “Today, I salute Firdaus Ramlan, a former magistrate who paid the price for corruption, for his courage and honesty to tell the world – ‘Yes, I was a corrupt magistrate’.
“But not a single politician, including those convicted of swindling millions, had ever admitted – ‘I was a corrupt politician’.
“And why are we not surprised?”
Reactions to my post were mainly in praise of Firdaus which was deserving indeed.
Here is a sample of the responses:
“At least he is honest enough to admit it. Alas, none of the politicians so far! Disastrous and shameless!”
“People make mistakes. If they are prepared to turn over a new leaf, good.”
“What an honest confession. There is a well-oiled system in place to facilitate corruption in the courts. Tip of the corruption iceberg”.
Not surprisingly, the story has also gone viral in Malaysiakini. It also attracted more than 150 comments from readers.
I believe that the majority of Malaysiakini readers are an affluent and discerning lot. Most are usually critical, but in this case, there were accolades aplenty for Firdaus.
It was not only the honesty of the repentant Firdaus that won him praise. The revelation by the ex-magistrate of the intense malpractices in the judiciary, right at the junior magistrate level, was now laid bare.
“At that time, the corrupt system was already in place. I had inherited it. This was an open secret,” Firdaus admitted, adding that “brokers” within the system acted as middle-persons between him and the crooks.
Although one or two judges had spoken up in the past of alleged corrupt practices within the judiciary, Firdaus’ case was different. Perhaps for the first time, there was a court official who openly admitted that he was on the take. He was a recipient, not a whistleblower.
Hence, I support the call by DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh to chief justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat to investigate allegations of corruption revealed by Firdaus.
Tengku Maimun should take up this case as a matter of great urgency as it is of grave concern whether magistrates are still inheriting the rotten system today, as claimed by Firdaus.
If young magistrates are already corrupt, what hope is there for justice in the country when they “graduate” to the higher benches later?
I congratulate Firdaus for coming clean and in particular for embarking on his mission to educate civil servants and prevent them from falling into the same trap as him.
A serious question. Has anyone ever heard of a Malaysian politician publicly admitting that he or she has been corrupt? Do share if you have. I cannot recall any, even after all these decades of observing politics in the country.
I have also posted this in a private chat group and a friend rightly pointed out – do you expect a thief to tell the whole world that he is a thief? Then, he must be the greatest idiot on earth.
Yeah, right, how could I forget how a former prime minister told a GE14 ceramah that he had not stolen “a single sen” in his many years at the helm of the nation? Let’s just say I gave myself a slap upon hearing that just to make sure I heard it right.
As I write this, a Perak PKR man with ties to a former minister has been detained by the MACC for alleged corruption. A woman minister has also been asked to explain the source of her wealth after settling million-ringgit debts.
There is no necessity to mention names as I am sure we all know who the personalities are.
As with all previous cases involving politicians, some of whom have been convicted, don’t expect any concession or confession from them or in more future cases of similar misconduct or malpractices.
Certainly not from this particular breed of known daylight robbers we call politicians. They will claim innocence till their final hour at the death bed, some will run and hide while the more fortunate will be protected by the imbedded sick system.
But there is something we all know – rumours are often true. So, don’t blame the public if they tend to believe more in rumours at times.
Finally, I must say that I am very happy to learn that Firdaus is still relatively young at 39. He has many good years ahead and I believe that his shot at redemption will be fruitful and meaningful.
Good luck and Godspeed, Firdaus.
FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of ‘Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan’. Obtain autographed copies from firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.