Corruption: Truly Malaysia?

Christopher Fernandez, Hornbill Unleashed

Over five decades of independence by Malaysia from the hands of British colonialists is viewed as a triumphant achievement by the powers-that-be and loyalists supportive of the ruling BN.

But the detractors and less sanguine have begun to grow in numbers and the need for either transformation or reformation, depending on which side of the political divide you follow, have begun to chorus in unison for change.

Pakatan Rakyat was the forerunner championing for reformation while BN followed suit by beginning to implement policies of transformation.

Whichever word we choose to use in Malaysia – “reformation” or “transformation” – it is obvious that the country is in need of dire changes or risk sinking into the abyss of becoming a failed state, a concern voiced by the prime minister himself.


However, reformation or transformation can only come about for the better if Malaysia is able to eradicate corruption which has now begun to undermine the peace and stability of the country. Both sides of the political divide have to set aside their differences to focus on the fight against corruption.

Battling corruption has become an imperative. The economic booms of the past may have caused Malaysia to prosper but invariably it has also fuelled corruption to possibly the highest levels since the inception of the country.

My concern is that besides weak political will and ineffective measures in the fight against corruption, most Malaysians lack even the basic awareness of what constitutes corruption. The extent to which this ignorance has spread is so widespread that unwittingly Malaysians have “conditioned” themselves to accept corruption as a way of life.

Case studies

It is appropriate now for me to highlight two case studies of my own which goes to prove beyond doubt Malaysians have either given up hope against the scourge of corruption or have willingly accepted it as a way of life.

In the first case is a family living in Cheras and engaged in a lucrative business manufacturing motor spare parts. My link with the husband-and-wife duo was a chance encounter when they enrolled for an English language course where I was the instructor.

The husband (now in his late forties) was a salesman for motor spare parts upon leaving secondary school. With the onset of marriage and a daughter and son to fend for, he found the income from his occupation hardly able to sustain them.

Complications began to set in when the younger child, the son, was diagnosed as having severe hearing loss. This meant providing him with constant auditory care and since he could not attend a regular school he had to be sent to an international school where the costs were exorbitant.

Compounding the situation was their interest in living an expensive and flashy lifestyle. But what was of great interest to me was how the family went about financing their way through life?

Since the couple had only secondary education to their credit and hardly any other profitable skills, they took desperate steps to solve their situation.

They ventured into illegal trading. With whatever finances they had saved from their earlier hard work, they parlayed it into an outfit operating out of the backwaters of Balakong to produce imitation spare parts which they distributed to dealers throughout the country.

These motor spare parts are not manufactured under license and are a blatant infringement of copyright laws.

Their ill-gotten gains have allowed them to purchase two luxury cars and move from their two-storey terrace house to a semi-detached bungalow in a matter of years.

Besides this, they have taken the extra precaution of securing permanent residence for themselves in New Zealand.