Change in govt key to stopping corruption
Crooks and charlatans benefit from party-hopping legitimised by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
P. Gunasegaram, The Vibes
ONE must welcome the recent outburst of the recently retired top cop over police links to crime, corruption in the force and among politicians, and the heavy influence of the home minister in the appointment of top police officers.
But it all started with the erosion of institutions, emasculation of the civil service, undermining of competence, autocratic rule by successive prime ministers, and unilateral decisions following the riots of May 13, 1969. Umno/Alliance lost their two-thirds majority for a while, and there was backlash – some say an engineered one – from the Malay community.
The rot accelerated when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ascended to become prime minister in 1981. His high-handedness caused a major challenge to him by Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Dr Mahathir’s former deputy, Tun Musa Hitam, for the Umno leadership.
Dr Mahathir beat Tengku Razaleigh by the skin of his teeth for the Umno president’s post, while Musa lost narrowly to Tun Ghafar Baba. Tengku Razaleigh challenged the results in court, which ruled in his favour, but instead of new elections, Dr Mahathir formed a new Umno.
Umno Baru – the current Umno – excluded Tengku Razaleigh, Musa, and those who supported them. The first chance he got, he moved against the judiciary, making it effectively an instrument of the state.
Eventually, all semblance of transparency, good governance and accountability was removed, the civil service shunted out from decision-making, and plum projects in power generation, tolled roads and maintenance contracts, among others, went to cronies – at very favourable rates, making billionaires out of some.
But as the judiciary and enforcement agencies, whose heads were effectively appointed by the prime minister, came under the sphere of influence of effectively corrupt, unscrupulous, greedy politicians, the institutions that were to have upheld the constitution and rule of law deteriorated.
Many of the corrupt went uninvestigated because of influence and pressure from the power-crazy top who brooked no dissent, honest or otherwise. The selective prosecution of opponents of the ruling political elite took place frequently and unfairly.
We all knew the injustice that prevailed, all of us. Some chose to be part of it, justifying it as necessary; some chose to fight it, with varying degrees of success and discomfort. Some paid a huge price, with their lives or many years in jail or lost opportunities, and faced continuing persecution.
But we knew all along, did we not, of these things that existed from long ago. And, we got increasingly fed up with it, and collectively as a nation, got rid of the worst of them through the polls, when Umno/Barisan Nasional suffered their first-ever defeat in national elections. How sweet that victory!
But how bitter the loss! To a backdoor government caused by ‘frogs’ jumping from one party to the next. And, a wily old man who had most of the country eating out of his hands for a while, thinking he had turned over a new leaf, and betraying the trust that the people had placed in him. The trust to carry out reform under the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, and under the same manifesto, to hand over power to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Instead, he schemed and he dithered, and he skilfully manipulated public opinion into believing he had won the elections when his party, Bersatu, took just 13 seats out of the 52 – or a mere 25% – contested for the worst record of any party in PH in the May 2018 general election.
His scheming got the better of him, however, when Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin outmanoeuvred Dr Mahathir, even as the old fox tried to form a unity government that would have given him dictatorial powers.