The Malay community especially must take up the cudgels against corruption, given that they dominate the public sector and a number of those who succumbed to corruption were decision-makers at various levels, Mustafa K Anuar writes.
It is deja vu. The 2018 general election saw former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad urging fellow Malaysians to vote Barisan Nasional out of Putrajaya because it was said to be tainted with kleptocracy.
And recently, as part of an electoral campaign in the run-up to the Slim by-election on 29 August, Mahathir again urged Malaysians, particularly the Malays, to vote for the candidate of his yet-to-be-registered Pejuang party as a way of rejecting what he considers as the corrupt practices of the Perikatan Nasional pact.
In particular, Mahathir condemned PN’s buying of political support through the provision of plum positions and other rewards.
Indeed, the Malays should be averse to such an unethical practice as it distorts one’s integrity, dignity, trust, morals and professionalism.
Political patronage as practised by BN over the years is one of the starting points for the spawning of an insidious culture of corruption in our society.
But there are other forms of corruption that the Malays should frown upon, especially when their Islamic faith has zero tolerance towards corruption and condemns the givers and takers of bribes.
Incidentally, the origins of some of these corrupt practices can be traced way before the Najib Razak administration, which explains why certain misdeeds have become entrenched.
One such questionable practice is found in the government procurement of goods, works and services. Government procedures for such procurement, which were at times inadequate and less transparent and accountable, opened up possibilities for abuse of power, resulting in financial leakages in the public sector over the years. Similarly, negotiated procurement without open tender has been subject to abuse, just as political interference worsens lack of transparency.
To be sure, systemic corruption adversely impacts economic decision-making, subverts competitiveness and subsequently stunts the country’s economic growth.
Moreover, the plundering of public funds brings about a weakening of the government’s capacity to provide basic amenities such as healthcare, education and aid to the poor, especially if there’s a professed policy of shared prosperity.
Given the serious implications of corruption upon our society, such immoral practices have been, and should be, the concern of other ethnic communities as well. Corruption defies ethnicity, religion, gender, age and political affiliation. Hence, the fight against corruption should be at all levels of society.
The Malay community especially must take up the cudgels against corruption, given that the Malays dominate the public sector and a number of them who succumbed to such evil deeds were those who occupied decision-making positions at various levels.
It is also disturbing to note that young people have succumbed to such malpractice. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) detained 2,740 people under the age of 40 out of 5,186 arrests made from 2014 until last November. Of the total, 2,428 or 46.8% were civil servants.
Corruption becomes deep-seated for as long as the perpetrators subscribe to the warped logic of “if the people at the top can do it, so can we.” In other words, they have the wrong role models to emulate.
Apart from a conscious policy of emphasising the immorality and sinfulness of corruption in religious teachings, there is also a need for greater commitment towards transparency and accountability in the government.
Media freedom and freedom of expression also play a vital role in combating corruption and ensuring transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors.
This is apart from having a fiercely independent anti-corruption agency.
The fight against corruption is for the long haul, and it does not stop at the ballot box.