Is Matthias Chang delusional?


Corruption in Umno and mismanagement of public funds date back to the days of Dr Mahathir

Rahim Zainuddin, Free Malaysia Today

So Matthias Chang would have us believe that corruption only became a culture in Umno under PM Najib Razak’s leadership. Is he delusional?

Perhaps, the former political secretary of Dr Mahathir should seek clarification on the subject from ex-NST editor-in-chief, A Kadir Jasin.

On May 14, 2000, just inside two decades of Mahathir’s tenure as prime minister, the NST published an opinion editorial entitled, “Eradicate scourge of money politics,” in which Kadir decried the effect money politics was having on Umno.

“Money politics and democracy do not mix,” Kadir opined. Democracy may be flawed but money politics makes it worse.

The subject formed the heart of Dr Mahathir’s opening address at Umno’s 54th general assembly.

Reading Kadir’s op-ed, it is strikingly clear that the hypocrisy which many Malaysians associate with Umno had already existed then.

“When the president condemned money politics, they cheered him. And when a candidate who practised money politics was announced, they also cheered,” Kadir had quoted an unnamed delegate as saying.

In his address to delegates, Mahathir had called for a revival of Umno ideals – “independence, freedom and muafakat (consensus).” Not “big cars, RM50,000 diamond watches and five-star hotel rooms.”

The simplest rebuttal to Chang’s claim is therefore this.

If corruption was not already entrenched within Umno after close to twenty years under Dr Mahathir’s leadership, why was there a need to address it then? How did it get to such endemic proportions?

It is a known fact that corruption, mismanagement and loss of public funds plagued Dr Mahathir throughout his administration.

Maminco (1981), the BMF scandal (1980s), Perwaja Steel (1980s), forex losses suffered by Bank Negara (1990s), Malaysia Airlines (1990s) and the 1997 financial crisis are just some examples of multi billion-ringgit losses which battered our economy.

Sadly, corruption within Umno and mismanagement of public funds date back to the days of Dr Mahathir. He cannot now avoid taking a large part of the blame for what Umno and Malaysia are perceived to be today.