1MDB, hudud saga and ‘cari makan’ syndrome

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Image: freemalaysiatoday.com

The rot has set deep within the system, and it will continue until those responsible are held accountable. But when will more Malaysians within the system stand up and say enough is enough, wonders K Haridas.

The possible deviousness at play has to be exposed. The public at large are unwittingly being manipulated by the ‘hudud’ saga that has suddenly come to the fore.

This is a common strategy that weak leaders under constant challenge use to distract the public from real issues. They create an issue that is both powerful and emotional which can fan extreme views. Their goal seems to be to sideline the controversy surrounding 1MDB. The relentless media exposure on 1MDB was getting at the leader.

The hot news related to the exposure of Bank Negara’s confirmation that US$1.03bn from 1MDB’s joint venture with PetroSaudi International was diverted to Good Star Ltd, apparently owned by Jho Low and not linked to the PetroSaudi group as claimed.

The guilt of the powers that be is further exposed by the fact that they are now want to find out who flouted the Official Secrets Act to enable this information to reach the public domain.

Who authorised the diversion of an amount totalling US$1.03bn? Why has this been kept a secret and even removed from the PAC report? What has the chairman of IMDB and the finance minister got to say about this? These are all questions of fact, and the emphasis now of publishing confidential documents in violation of the OSA is a mere red herring.

When “cari makan” surreptitiously deleted two paragraphs from the PAC report on 1MDB and when opposition members of the committee discovered this was done without their knowledge, they knew that there was more to this than meets the eye.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal claims that Bank Negara wrote a letter confirming that the company in question was owned by none other than Najib’s friend Jho Low. The prime minister’s defensive statements in response only puts the him in the dock. The fact remains a fact.

Diversion strategy?

So did the communications experts then come out with a ‘red herring’ diversion strategy? For a leader who shouts about moderation or wasatiyyah on the global stage, the push for ‘hudud’ legislation that has been slipped in now is an example of the tremendous gap between what is said and what is done.

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This is another issue that exposes the serious integrity gap that is so visible today. The matter, we are told, was informally raised but was never part of any formal cabinet meeting.

No respect is given to the other coalition partners; neither were their views solicited. They have to come out with ultimatums to stress the seriousness of their positions. It looks as if Umno is possibly trying to clutch its last straw.

The powers that be now have the National Security Act to protect them. They are ready to sacrifice their partners, including those in East Malaysia, in their bid to ensure that power remains with them.

That this private member’s bill was brought forward in Parliament, surprising even BN coalition partners, highlights the arrogance of Umno. So much for dialogue with the other Barisan Nasional coalition partners.

This exposes the sham that exists in the way the BN gives leadership to this nation. What is evident is that Umno provides the leadership and the others are just there for decoration – to give lip service to the diversity of the nation and to project our so-called moderate posture.

What has happened to muhasabah (pausing for a self-assessment) and the emphasis on dialogue? Obviously, there is very little dialogue and a lot of pronouncements. What can the other partners do?

Umno is very confident because its partners exist purely on its goodwill and financial support and because the component parties have lost the confidence of the people. So the interests of Umno and its present leadership assume utmost importance.

A matter of perception?

We have a prime minister who wants us to believe that the integrity crisis that the nation faces is one of perception and external ‘noise’. Is he so isolated and so out of touch with reality for him to express such views?

A serving attorney general has been dismissed; the workings of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has been disrupted, and the independent task force set up to investigate the 1MDB has ended up a fiasco. And now, the prime minister claims this is all a matter of perception?

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The revelations have resulted in banks being closed down in Singapore. We have heard stories about kings, princes, donations and spin after spin that it is no more an issue of perception. All this has severely eroded trust in the prime minister and finance minister.

There appears to be a group within the cabinet that is in control of the government, and they seem to be using all the means available to ensure that their leader will not be brought to account. Otherwise, quite possibly, they might not have the resources needed for the next elections.

The default culture of greed, patronage, nepotism and corruption is so deep that untrustworthy leaders feel confident that they can continue to get away despite the facts. The amounts involved are enormous.

People can be bought too, and that is perhaps why many good people have become good for nothing. How can you stand up when you have accepted money for your own political work, for your party or department, and have agreed to be a conduit for covering up such illegally received money?

It is no more loyalty to the constitution but loyalty to the individual. When this becomes the norm, then silence becomes the safer option, and many just go with the flow as events unfold.

Apart from opposition leaders and opposition party members, where are those from within BN and the government who are expressing any sense of caution or warning or alerting the government that this cannot continue?

Rot within the system

Look at our “cari makan” PAC chairman. That he feels he can get away with amending the PAC report only reveals what people who put loyalty first are capable of doing. If the chairman of a bank can get away with receiving about RM25m and then disbursing it to Umno politicians, what more can be said about the power of patronage?

We are told that the MACC grilled the PM; yet what is the result? In the case of Lim Eng Guan’s house, the papers have been sent to the attorney general’s department for further action. In the case of the prime minister, there is just silence. This again shows how impotent the MACC is as well other great bodies of governance and integrity that have been set up.

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Those who stand up and ask questions face being dealt with immediately – either with transfers or being sent to the civil service ‘pool’ to kill time.

Following a 10-year period of skulduggery, the immigration department has now been shaken as a result of a report by the auditor general. Director general Sakib Kusmi indicates that investigations have revealed that immigration staff and agents of people smugglers were paid billions since 2010. Earlier, other scandals had resulted in senior officers of the same department being indicted.

What does this say about the power of the default culture? Obviously, they seem to be learning from the top. The only difference is that they were caught while the others have politics, patronage and power as covers. Figures of RM100m have been mentioned, and the way funds have been misused continues to stun the public.

All this shows how deeply the rot within the system has set in, and this will continue until people at the top are held accountable. When will more Malaysians within the system stand up and say enough is enough!

To catch officers, clerical staff and some directors and to transfer them without holding the secretary general, director general and even the minister responsible is to deflect responsibility and accountability. It is a cheap way of handling the issue. What has our minister of integrity got to say about this matter as well as about institutions like the MACC and the IIM.

The immigration director general would be well advised to focus on his department and handle this issue properly instead of focusing on which Malaysians should be barred from travelling overseas. Since when has he become an expert on this and where does he get his unfettered powers?

This is how autocrats are created and they bring a bad name and image to an already battered nation.

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Jane Cote
Jane Cote
5 Jun 2016 8.07pm

Thanks for your courageous and eloquent essay.