Does Nazir Razak not get it?

“He did not care for the lying at first. He hated it. Then later he had come to like it. It was part of being an insider but it was a very corrupting business.” – Ernest Hemingway (For whom the bell tolls)

S Thayaparan, Malaysiakini

Nazir Abdul Razak’s amnesty and then “shoot to kill” idea of dealing with corruption in this country would be a tenuous proposition even if the political system itself was not so corrupt.

The entire political system of this country is part of a complex ecosystem of private and public interests that seek not only political hegemony but also religious hegemony.

We are not dealing with corrupt individuals within a system but rather a system of corruption with a few honest men and women.

Corruption is not a recent phenomenon, but rather it is part of the DNA of the organism fueled by racial and religious imperatives and a compromised electoral system.

Umno/BN designed the system, so any attempt at corrective measures would be met by a deluge of racial and religious provocations that would destabilise the country.

Let us not forget that when we talk of corruption we are not only talking about the corruption of the political elites but also of institutions which are considered sacred cows to the bangsa and agama crowd.

We live in a country where corruption enables a certain class of people to send their kids to expensive private schools, where they are taught in English and as they grow older are not subject to the religious and racial sanctions of the state (just like their parents) and enjoy a lifestyle so far removed from the average joe rakyat that they cease being part of a specific class but are essentially a different strain of humanity for all intents and purposes.

We have religious schools burning down and kids dying and what does the political system do? Well, it increases the budget of the religious apparatus, so that more unregulated schools can be built.

Do you know why they do this? Well because their kids do not go to these schools. Their kids go overseas for their education or stay in this country and go to private schools – some religious – but where their kids are given an education which would help them survive in this world. Of course for their parents, money helps a lot.

And people talk of corruption as if it is confined to the political elites. As I said, it is a complex ecosystem and you do not have to go very far to discover this especially when you consider the horror which is Wang Kelian.

If you want to see the top to bottom down approach to corruption in this country with regard to this issue, remember then home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his nothing to see remarks: “However, they have been released because there was insufficient evidence to convict them of the offence.”

Want to know how bad corruption is in our state security apparatus? Well, remember that special branch report and what an operative from the special branch said: “The enemy we have to fight is one that operates as an institution. We are dealing with institutionalised corruption so deeply entrenched that expecting internal disciplining is like asking the chief crook to rat out on his runners.”

Political gain

Remember when Pakatan Harapan was in power, the investigation into former Sarawak governor Abdul Taib Mahmud – perhaps the white whale of oppositional talking points when it came to corruption – came to a standstill.

Remember what then de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong said: “They were not new evidence that would allow MACC to open a new investigation paper.”

Then MACC chief Latheefa Koya said of the status of high profile cases: “However, not all complaints ended up being investigated, especially those with evidence which were just printouts from the internet.”

This was a really queer thing to say because Harapan made its case against corruption from printouts from the internet or at the very least had no problem making such cases against their political adversaries.

Of course, it would be easy to blame former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for this, but does anyone really think that there was nobody with a set of cajones in Harapan who would not have done the right thing?

So you see, even though I believe that there are many honest political operatives in Harapan, they are outnumbered by people who are willing to make compromises and sustain the system either for political gain or because they are so narcotised by their political party, to make waves would be detrimental to their political survival.

But here is the thing, people are more interested in seeing the occasional big fish in orange jumpsuits while the system endures. Carry on like this and soon this country will be a failed state.

But you know these political elites will not be in the country when this happens. They, and their families but more importantly their money will be overseas.

So how do we deal with corruption in this country? Well, the first thing we need to do, is for the political elites, and by this I mean Umno/BN, Harapan and Perikatan Nasional, to admit that their racial and religious con game is there to narcotise the majority.

Then you go about dismantling the religious bureaucracy and ensuring that young children get the education they deserve, not to mention allowing a level of free speech and expression which empowers the rakyat.

And then start reforming our public institutions so that they have the independence and the power to sanction the political elites and their proxies down the food chain.

All this is not some Herculean effort that would take decades. This could be done while running the country and dealing with the vagaries of a changing world.

Why? Because the vast majority of Malaysians are law-abiding citizens and whether they are Muslims, Christians, Hindus or Buddhists, want to see their country and their politicians succeed.

This will never happen of course.

Why? Because, for the political apparatus in this country, this cure is worse than the disease.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum – “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.