Is Pas Becoming An Apologist For The Corrupt
Recent statements on the causes of corruption makes one wonder if some politicians have lost their sense of reasoning.
To racialise the debate by quoting an unnamed university’s study that 88% of corrupt practices are perpetuated by non-Malays appears to be a way of PAS apologising for the corrupt.
The party chose to throw the givers under the bus while apologising for the takers. To show how outdated and disconnected the party is from reality, it quoted the study which was conducted between 2010 and 2014 citing 449 media reports.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang launched the diatribe when he made a brash statement that non-Muslims and non-Bumiputeras are the major cause of corruption. Knowingly or otherwise, the leader who is known for blatant race-baiting chose to ignore the fact that both takers and givers are responsible for the corruption mess Malaysia is facing today.
Following his statement, there was huge outcry from Malaysians who felt that Hadi was totally off the mark and was trying to apologise for the bribe takers. I am not sure if it was a coincidence that he made the statement days after the jailing of Najib Razak, who is also alleged to have given PAS millions from the 1MDB loot.
PAS central committee member Mohd Zuhdi Marzuki came to the defence of his supremo, saying the study revealed that 88% of 449 people convicted of giving bribes were non-Malays.
Writing on his Facebook page, Zuhdi said according to the study, 57.46% of the bribe givers were Chinese, 30.51% Indians and 12.03% Malays. It also showed that Malays were the majority when it came to receiving them.
Hadi has completely ignored the fact that if there are no takers, there won’t be givers too. Of course if there are no givers in the first place, there will be no takers. So by blaming people of one race, the Islamic party’s leader has displayed a shallow view of a massive problem that has torn the nation apart over the last couple of decades.
The focus of politicians should be to look at what causes corruption, which is widespread especially in the agencies that give approvals or enforce the law. Unfortunately, these institutions are mainly manned by Malay employees, especially the decision makers.
Hadi had at one time cited low wages as among the causes of corruption. Yes, it does contribute but it cannot be an excuse to indulge in such practices. As we can see, most of these low wage earners stay away from corruption which shows Hadi is absolutely wrong.
It is pure greed and the good life being led by the corrupt in Malaysia that has attracted the takers. And the rush for quick approvals, which are often slowed down by unnecessary bureaucratic requirements, prompts the givers. For investors, time means money and they have complained of having to go through too many unnecessary layers for approvals.
Obviously, the whole thing ends up as a quid pro quo arrangement, something which actually became widespread over the last few decades. In this process, many also took advantage and became self-appointed middlemen by using the names of politicians, with permission or otherwise.
The last thing that the nation needs now is a debate on which ethnic community is the major cause of corruption. It is totally irresponsible of politicians to side track the problem using race or religion. The focus should be on what led to the current situation and how corruption should be reduced before being eliminated totally.
Hadi and PAS should not ignore the argument that public sector corruption also results from a failure of governance and poor rule of law. These are important government-level contributors to corruption.
Poor governance can arise from low quality public sector management, a lack of accountability, a weak legal framework and a lack of transparency regarding public sector processes.
A lack of competence and speed in processing applications also contribute to failure of governance. Whether one likes it or not, there is a link between poor governance and corruption. We have seen enough of this in our key institutions. Why, even the judiciary and the body entrusted to nab the corrupt have come under scrutiny now.
Studies too have found that the degree of corruption is likely to be more severe in countries with less political freedom.
We saw that happening in Malaysia with the corruption problem worsening from the early 80s which, incidentally, was during the first reign of Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister, an era when he unleashed a few draconian laws that sent shivers down the spine of Malaysians.
Until social media took over the role of the actual fourth estate in the last decade, the mainstream news outlets which were mainly controlled by the government directly or indirectly, completely ignored reporting corruption in high places.
Editors who were given honorific titles and often called up for briefing by the prime minister’s office, often chose to highlight the government narrative.
But thanks to the advent of news portals and a social media which is often on overdrive, Malaysians now have an outlet to leak information which has helped expose corrupt practices.
The marked absence of a strong stand by PAS against corruption now is worrying, as even non-Muslims were praising the party in the past for fighting it. Their now softened stance after being part of the federal government is a major disappointment.
A strong government will first seek to contain corruption among the bureaucracy. As we know, investments are particularly at risk where there is blatant and widespread corruption especially in regulatory bodies.
Malaysians can only hope that the electorate will make an unequivocal stand against corruption at the next general election. - FMT
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.
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