Are the corrupt nervous yet?

By Datuk Jema Khan, The Malaysian Insider

Others who are involved in corruption must also be extremely nervous because if Tun Ling can be charged, no one can believe they are immune from the same fate.

AUG 2 — The charging of Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik in court on Thursday must have sent shockwaves throughout the country. He is the first Tun to have ever been charged in Malaysia’s history. He is, at the same time, a prominent member of the establishment who is well liked.

It is unfortunate that Tun Ling’s reputation is now damaged, regardless of the outcome of the trial, but the message from the establishment is clear: No one is above the law.

The second message is that major events like this can happen even when the prime minister is out of town. I suspect that the PM, even if he knew about Tun Ling’s imminent charge, would prefer that the law takes its course and would want justice to be seen to be done without his interference.

As this involves a former Cabinet colleague, the PM must be in two minds: That of loyalty to a friend and the duty that his office demands. I am sure he will be pondering this on his vacation.

Others who are involved in corruption must also be extremely nervous because if Tun Ling can be charged, no one can believe they are immune from the same fate.

In the spirit of 1 Malaysia maybe they too may have to fill the quota of those being charged. Malay, Chinese, Indian, a native of Sabah or Sarawak; who is next, I wonder?

The guilty ones will also be wondering the same and quivering in fear, no doubt. Perhaps the next time the PM decides to take a holiday, you may see a mass exodus of those with guilty consciences, who will also leave the country at the same time.

Even Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) Tony Pua, who sits on Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, must have been surprised with Tun Ling being charged. I am sure even he felt that Tun Ling was to some extent immune from this and did not press the issue in the PKFZ inquiry.

He went for some lesser mortals where he thought he was more likely to succeed. In a sense, the action taken by the authorities, shows that there are no more sacred cows in the war against corruption.

There are those who say that this is all a charade and that there are many more who should be brought to book. That is a valid point but if we start seeing a few more “whales” of Tun Ling’s stature being charged (especially if they come from Umno and the other Barisan Nasional component parties), many will start to believe that there is a sincere attempt to clean up this time.

Even MACC chief Datuk Seri Abu Kassim Mohamed is making the right kind of statements in asking the Cabinet to declare their assets publicly.

PR, too, is taking corruption seriously with DAP sacking its Klang municipal councillor Tee Boon Hock over allegations of corruption.

Both the BN and Pakatan know that corruption will be a major issue in the general election due in the next few years. However, as BN is the government, the people will be looking more towards the current administration’s success in battling corruption.

If the administration’s efforts are half-hearted, it may do more harm than good in the political sense, as I am sure there will be an internal backlash against the PM from within the BN.