MUHAIYIDDEN IS TRYING TO FIX ME
The deputy prime minister said in a speech on the National Integrity Agenda that battling graft was “the main jihad for every government with integrity”.
“So many world leaders have been ousted and governments overthrown as they were embroiled in corruption and abuse of power,” Muhyiddin (picture) said.
Malaysia has been perceived to be getting more corrupt since 2008.
Its score in graft watchdog Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index last year dropped to 4.5 from 5.1 three years ago.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was also dealt a huge blow to its credibility after a senior customs official fell to his death at the anti-graft body’s office in Cheras on April 6.
His passing came while the MACC is already in the middle of a royal commission of inquiry into the mysterious death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock outside its then Shah Alam office in 2009.
Ahmad Sarbaini, a 56-year-old assistant director, had been remanded on March 29 following an MACC-led swoop on a Customs syndicate that it said was worth at least RM3 billion in unpaid taxes, resulting in the arrest of 62 officers.
Muhyiddin was quizzed on the Customs bust by a member of the audience who said that the government should also be investigating politicians who were living beyond their means.
“They drive big cars and live in luxurious houses,” said Datuk Ibrahim Saidun, director-general of the Institute of Economic Growth Research Malaysia.
Muhyiddin did not give a direct reply but insisted that international bodies had said that Malaysia showed an improvement in fighting corruption.
“Many feel we have succeeded in addressing the issue although it is still not satisfactory,” Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, said.
He added that the MACC needed a “solid basis and sufficient evidence” before taking action as accusations of corruption were made all the time.
In his speech, the deputy prime minister also said that laws alone could not address corruption if “those who took public office were not dedicated and trustworthy”.
Retired cop Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim wants a royal panel to probe the government’s top lawyer whom he blamed for prolonging a police investigation into a controversial sex video linked to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
And when it comes to the timing of these charges, what is really interesting is that they are not based on any new information but pertain to alleged misdemeanours in past which have been raised today. What that means is that the accusers, even if right, have always known about these but have chosen to come out in the open only today. So even if we were accept Amar Singh’s statements at face value, it would mean that till such time as the Bhushans were not posing any serious problems, their alleged actions were deemed to be perfectly normal. From Singh’s perspective, it would seem that in a corrupt system, corrupt fellow travellers are welcome, it is only when they reform that their previous behaviour takes on the air of a crime. What makes this is a smear campaign is not the fact that the charges might well be fictitious but that they have been raised now. Regardless of the veracity of these claims, the campaign itself is patently designed to dismantle the troublesome effort to make the administration more accountable to the public it allegedly serves. Notwithstanding what it contains, the intent of the smear campaign makes it corrupt, for it is aimed at furthering a personal agenda rather than uphold an idea. Allegations about the Bhushans and Santosh Hegde are being made in bad faith, in order to stymie a social movement, rather than to find the best way to curtail corruption.
The demand that the Bhushans should resign is by itself not the primary issue. That we believe that the way to derail an entire social movement is by discrediting some individuals associated with it is. For the issue is much larger than the people involved. It is our current discourse which reduces ideas to people, and then assigns to all their actions motives of a personal nature, that is responsible. Of course, it helps that a movement that claims that it represents civil society finds it so hard to find representatives that it chooses two from the same family. The reluctance of the leaders of the movement to include a wider cross-section of civil society has made it more vulnerable than it needs to be.
At a deeper level, the problem is that we equate all positions with power and we see all power as a form of jagir that can be leveraged to personally useful ends. Anyone who represents themselves as guardians of public rather than personal interest are viewed with automatic suspicion; it becomes imperative to take them down from their presumed moral pedestal. Which is why we see the membership of the drafting committee as a symbolic perk of some kind reserved for saints that have earned the right to become holier-than-thou. The resentment against this movement is in part a desire to show that everyone is equally venal, without exception. It is a defining paradox of our times that the attempt to clean up public life is countered, seemingly quite effectively, by further evidence that it is even dirtier than we thought. Since everyone is corrupt, we cannot entrust anyone with the responsibility of making things better, the argument goes. The truth is that if everything that is being thrown around is true, if all the muck that is flying is as black as it is made out to be, then all it does is make the case for a concerted anti-corruption effort that much stronger. The corruption in our minds and in the air cannot be used as a reason not to something about it.
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