Umno-BN culture – all show without substance

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We hope that corruption will one day be a thing of the distant past.

Umno culture is not the Malaysian culture, and we have missed the magic of creating a unique culture that blends the best of all ethnic communities in the nation, laments K Haridas.

It is difficult to reconcile the countless scandals rocking the nation with the news of misappropriation of funds and corruption.

We have just read the amazing events surrounding the Sabah water supply issue. A total of RM114m seized of which RM53.7m was in cash, RM60m in bank accounts in addition to luxury cars, jewellery, 127 land titles, branded watches and handbags.

These represent alleged kickbacks linked to RM3.3bn worth of federal projects. Can all this be done without the knowledge of the chief minister, the finance minister and the chief secretary of the state?

Earlier we heard about the scandal around the Ministry of Youth and Sports involving RM100m. This was followed by the immigration scandal with officials again being caught with large amounts of money in their possessions.

If we were to list the scandals from the Bank Bumiputra scandal in the 1980s until present-day scandals under Umno’s leadership, we will have a list so long and amounts so staggering – all of which only highlights the opportunity costs lost in the quest to become a genuinely fully developed nation.

When we then compare this to the extent to which people have not been convicted and held accountable, we can get a clue as to how we have reached the stage where we are today. No minister or top official has been indicted while cases have dragged on and on with no conclusion.

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The present Chief Secretary Ali Hamsa has the gall to say that a few rotten eggs should not cast aspersions on an otherwise great civil service. With due respect, he does not appear ready to take the bull by the horns and face reality.

What we have heard and seen is only the tip of the iceberg as is evident from the regular auditor general’s reports.

The perception is strong that the civil service is plauged with corruption. The ‘tontos’ have just killed a customs officer who was discharging her duties. Earlier a deputy director of customs was shot dead. We have to face it: we have inherited alleged corruption in the police, customs and immigration departments and in the local councils. The recent Kuala Lumpur City Hall fiasco is another case in point.

In MO1, we have an excellent example of Umno-BN’s leadership by example in terms of corruption and mismanagement of the nation with figures running into the billions. People are being charged in Singapore; the US justice department has come out clearly in the United States; banks have been closed down and action taken. But at home in Malaysia, life goes on as usual. Shame on Malaysia!

This is part of the Umno culture that has seeped into the rest of the BN as well. They have manipulated the New Economic Policy to such an extent that they have created a culture of handouts, rent-seeking, titles and patronage. As the prime minister says, “You help me; I help you.”

Umno is all about race and power, and this is why after more than five decades of its rule, the country is where it is today.

The emblem was unity in diversity, and the economic imbalance brought to birth the NEP. While this did address the issue, its long and continued implementation under different acronyms continues to do immense damage to the country.

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The NEP mentality pervades the civil service and the leadership of Umno. Leaders of other BN component parties meanwhile seem more interested in their own wealth and have likewise forsaken the cause of unity in diversity.

Trapped as we are within racial ghettos, we are unable to find that transcending cause that will lead us to the Malaysian dream. The mould of ethnic politics polarises, isolates and cripples us.

Our diversity is our strength, but we lack the will and leadership to pull together. Our diversity seems only good for tourism, and after 53 years as Malaysia, we can and should do better.

Umno culture is not the Malaysian culture, and we have missed the magic of creating a unique culture that blends the best of all ethnic communities in the nation.

Issues are viewed from a racial and religious perspective. Take Islam as an example, and you have an Umno brand to it. It is all fashion and obligations. Everything is halal or hudud and the need to put a front that one is holier than the other. Islam is a garment for Umno and Pas Malays. It is all expression with very little substance in the way it is observed.

They are more interested in policing the religious obligations of fellow Muslims than inspiring the development of virtuous and effective individuals who lead by example. Inner change has to take place; otherwise, it is prohibition- focused, which is rooted in self-righteousness and injustice.

Umno’s brand of Islam has led to the levels of corruption that we witness today. Even this is rationalised in the context of race. What is wrong for Umno Malays to make money? It is absolutely not wrong at all. But the key question is about the means employed to do this.

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When they make a lot of money even if this means corruption, then it is described as “rezeki”. Others are merely “jealous”, seems to be the assertion. But if later individuals are caught, then it is “takdir”.

So if you can get away with it, then it is worth a try, and the system and the culture probably in many ways encourages such conduct and behaviour. The fact that things can go on for so long reveals the strength of the prevailing culture of corruption.

Otherwise, how does one explain the endemic nature of corruption in the administration of the nation? Today, we can evaluate what the BN stands for and has accomplished.

Race will not unite this nation and unless a more inclusive policy and leadership is in place, we will as a nation continue to move down the ladder of mediocrity.

Is this what we want? When political parties and leaders do not stand for anything inclusive, they turn to issues of identity as a means to capture and sustain themselves in power.

Manipulation, the delineation of constituencies and injustice are obvious – for the sake of power. This, however, comes at a great cost and we can already see what this is doing to Malaysia as a nation.

The personification of faith is ultimately reflected through an expression of values. A strong and abiding commitment to values is part of a committed expression of faith.

Without this, it is all show without substance. Believers of all religions and politicians who project themselves as great adherents of any religion ultimately fail this litmus test. Religion without conviction is hypocrisy; conviction with religion is faith.

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