It’s not the money that was or wasn’t stolen – it’s more than that, Dr M


Money lost is nothing, relatively speaking. What we have lost is everything that matters.

Roland S., The Ice Cream Seller

Dr M has in jest asked MACC to investigate how much money he had stolen during his time in government. I would not bother with that so much. Just for the record, we are not talking about his 22 years at the helm. We have to include his entire tenure in politics since the 1950s – for which the time is still clocking.

How much money – if at all – is not the big issue to me. More important than money, he has taken/caused/directed/presided/authorised/planned/dismantled/destroyed (choose whatever suits) – the soul of this nation to where it never was never meant to be and I will say it as I see it. You may agree, disagree but that is my view.

Money lost can – over time – be recovered. We have heard countries that were brought to their knees at varying times in their history but today are successful societies. Some of them were through no fault of their own – natural disasters, caught in war, economic circumstances – to name a few.

But coming back to Dr M, how does one restore or pay back any of the following:

Secular Country

Despite what our Constitution stipulates, despite the well publicised and oft quoted landmark judgement (and many other statements by past leaders) that confirms we ARE are a secular nation, he single-handedly and for his own political objectives at that time, declared that we are an Islamic nation. Try turning that back. You can shout till you are blue in the face that we are secular but it paved the road for the likes of ISMA, PERKASA and a host of others to then stand on a different gilt-edged platform. Try telling them otherwise. Can we put a monetary value to this?

Civil Liberties

What we have lost today – or seen a massive erosion, if you like – had its origins from his time. How much money are we to ascribe to this? BMF is nothing. Until Ops Lallang, our journalists and opposition politicians were never imprisoned on such a scale – post independence.

Ethnic and Religious Harmony

In the time up to May 1969, our different ethnic groups largely got on well and there was far better integration than now. Today we talk of ‘tolerence’. Then, it went way beyond ‘tolerance’ – we embraced  each other, differences and all. We visited, sometimes stayed over our friends homes during festivities and after sports events. No issue with crockery or cutlery like today. What monetary value to this loss?


How do you redress the damage here? Thousands of people brought in just to dilute the native non-Muslim population. At the same time, their oil revenue was taken with a pittance given back to their state. Unless one was party to the pillage, they are worse off joining the Federation – from so many aspects. Many Sabahans feel cheated and disillusioned with their lot.


We may wear smart looking uniforms, clothes and drive flashy cars, carry expensive handbags, watches strapped around that cost as much as a house. It’s a backhanded reflection that we have lost our dignity. Medals on the uniform of a police officer do not confer dignity. Neither the slogans that adorn the uniforms. Wearing a nurses’ uniform or a doctor’s gown does not necessarily make you a humane professional. Tall buildings, mega complexes that house the halls of justice – do not lend the lustre that the professions demand nor cry out for. There are countless people conferred with titles such as Dato, Datuk, Dato Seri, Tan Sri and so forth. How many truly carry dignity with these. There is no price enough for this loss.

Lost Generation

Malaysians who were say from 6 or 7 years old and younger when Dr M became Prime Minister know no other leader despite the successors to him. Some are now in their early forties. Their world view, value system, education, etc., have been moulded by no one more than him. To me, this is the lost generation. Lost because they never experienced what Malaysia was like. To me those were our heydays. No tall buildings, highways, universities galore and new white elephant cities. We had quality. There were no billionaires but we were a rich country in so many ways. Our future will later be chartered by the likes of them. Many of the best brains have left. Now we claim they were Malaysian born. Even another generation trying everything right will not be able to undo this damage completely.


From one of the best in Asia, maybe even the world, our quality is now beyond description. A study of the education many of our ministers have had will demonstrate this best. Our English proficiency is now on par with Indonesia and Thailand. On a recent trip to Seoul, I found that the hotel staff spoke better English than ours. Granted, it may have been a leading hotel but check our leading hotels today. A few years back, my son’s mathematics tutor – retired from the RMC – told me that what they are taught today in Form 5 is nowhere near what students did in the 60s and 70s.

More than half (by my reckoning) of our cabinet will not be able to string a grammatically correct sentence in English. Add the senior civil servants, police chiefs, doctors, diplomats and the damage is so sad to observe.

Judicial System

How does one unfetter and resuscitate a system that has seen its image and worth that in the eyes of the public is so critically wounded? How does one clear contamination in something as sacred as this?

In my early working years in the early 80s, commercial agreements provided for dispute resolution in our courts. Within 15 years, most similar agreements spelt out arbitration either in Singapore or KL as the option in dispute resolution. It tells  me what the parties think of the courts.

Dr M and LKY had much in common. Both were intelligent, articulate and determined. Both had a long innings on the crease (those who do not understand cricket, never mind). But whilst one stood for embracing unity in diversity, the other sacrificed diversity on the alter of disunity and divisiveness.

Money lost is nothing, relatively speaking. What we have lost is everything that matters. No use getting the MACC to look into this – they themselves may need a moral compass.