Currently, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has been in the papers regarding how a senior civil servant has been found to have embezzled RM100 million in the past six years.
At the same time, the Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng has also been revealed to have bought his house at a 60 percent lower valuation by an individual who owns shares in setting up a dental hospital in the state.
While Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak continues to fend off allegations of corrupt practices with “donations” and also the running of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), a question needs to be answered – are Malaysians going to be corrupt by demanding biased treatment based on their political leanings?
All the cases above highlight that the Malaysian political grassroots will go all out to defend their leaders, even if it means twisting facts and truths to the point that nothing makes sense.
In the case of Penang, somehow a house tour for reporters is considered to be a settlement for accusations of buying a house at 40 percent its value – and somehow diehard supporters are willing to say that this is proof of Lim’s “transparency”.
Personally, that doesn’t even address the allegation being made against him at all?
The allegation being put forward is this. Did Lim manage to buy a house at only 40% its value because the person who sold it got a land parcel to build their dental hospital?
Thus, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) should investigate this allegation.
Corruption: System failure or greed?
Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has gone out and admitted that a corruption investigation conducted by the MACC is against one of his senior officers. At the same time, he admits that he did not have an inkling that it was going on.
He goes on to point out that an independent panel will be set up by the ministry to look into the loopholes that made this possible – terming it a system failure.
Now, here is the thing that Malaysians need to consider – where do you draw the line between system failures and typical human greed?
According to news reports, this senior officer knew of the loophole and has been exploiting it for 6 years. Thus, this is not just something that happened overnight.
And as such, the senior officer knew of the loophole and did nothing to highlight it to superiors or even take the case to the minister himself. Instead, he chose to exploit this loophole for his own personal gain.
Thus, it was greed. And if one senior officer decided to become greedy and do so, what about the rest in the civil service?
A systemic problem – if Khairy says the entire system is faulty – would mean that the entire department headed by this fellow was in fact responsible for costing the ministry RM100 million to the point that someone even managed to go live the lifestyle of luxury by Cartier.
Innocent till proven guilty, but…
While Khairy is being diplomatic in allowing the senior officer to stay at his post for the duration of the investigation, this is the wrong message for a public which has no trust in the system.
Heck, it’s akin to having a person who ran over a pedestrian while driving drunk to still hold on to his keys after seven Jagerbombs. It isn’t a good idea.
Similarly with Lim, the more he talks, the more he is contradicting the evidence of a case being investigated by the MACC.
Therefore, there is a need to consider what needs to be done by both civil servants and even elected leaders while they are under investigation. Thus, we go back to the case with Najib.
The initial call when allegations of corruption came out against the prime minister was that he take leave of his post pending investigation. This should now be made standard practice by all ministries and even state governments.
Specifically, the accused should pass on their duties to deputies and vacate their posts with pay until the investigation is complete.
If charges are filed, then there is a need to go about with subsequent steps of resigning from all posts and having internal plans for succession.
Does quantum matter?
And while ardent supporters of Lim go about spewing on quantum of how his house was less than the price paid by Najib for his daughter’s wedding, it is irrelevant to the core issue.
I would raise this question – should we forgive corruption just because the price is small?
In a daily scenario, would we not care if a policeman pulls over a car and demands RM100 instead of issuing a summons?
Or if someone at an open parking lot says you would have to pay extra to ensure that your car is “safer”?
Or what about paying off someone who wants to tow away your car for double parking?
All these lead to an erosion of trust, and it doesn’t affect the just that one individual but entire departments, state agencies and even all the way up to the federal government. Thus, quantum does not play a role.
In this sense, neither should politics, in the case of Lim’s supporters.
If we truly have a Malaysian people that are keen to push towards a “zero tolerance” society against corruption, then it should not matter if the fellow is the prime minister, a chief minister, some Tan Sri or Datuk Seri, your BFF since kindergarten, or even your cousin from your mother’s side twice removed.
And both sides need to see that for what it is, or just be as bad as the other.