The Culture of Corruption

By G. Krishnan

"No stone will be left unturned in finding out the real cause of death and, if there is any foul play, action will definitely be taken." So says the prime minister to Teoh Beng Hock's family.

Of course the above statement should come as a reassurance not just to Beng Hock’s family members but to all Malaysians. And the operative term here is “should”. That’s the part that troubles me and is something that I find rather difficult to get over. By all accounts, we should have confidence in Najib’s reassurance; we should take solace in the fact that the truth will be revealed; we should have faith that if there has been any criminal wrong-doing which led to or contributed to Beng Hock’s death, that justice would be served; we should have no hesitation about such an eventuality.

But then again, we should be able to trust the fact that our government agencies designed to serve and protect the public are in fact themselves not infested with corruption. We should be confident that those who head these agencies are not themselves compromised and simply obedient political instruments of their political masters. We should be able to have faith that our corrupted political culture has not just tainted – but in fact is sharply reflected and entrenched in the working of government agencies such as the MACC and the police force.

Let me suggest the following: Any arm of the government – you name it – is only as good as the political culture practiced in that society. A society whose political culture is riddled with corruption, nepotism and cronyism will find that is various government institutions are but a mirror image of that reality.

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