Hornbill Unleashed

April 11, 2013

Corruption watchers

KJ John


Legal compliance of rules and regulations is a major Malaysian problem in many areas and arenas of life. There are always two sides to this problem. One is our close-one-eye culture; the other is a conscious and intentional effort by rule-breakers to avoid compliance; for reasons beyond public knowledge.

Both of these form an ‘attitude of non-compliance’ which creates a culture of ‘tidak apa,’ or ‘kesian-lah,’ or ‘bagi-chance-lah;’ all of which reflects some forms of encouragement to show mercy or show grace over the human and natural mistakes made. The only problem is that, for the rule-breakers, it is their intention to break the rules for a personal agenda or private motives.

The problem

The late Professor Mohkzani Abdul Rahim, in the early 1980s, once made a public comment (1) and observation that “Malays generally do not buy canes and may in fact not believe in spanking their children with a cane.”

I am not sure this is an accurate statement about Malay family culture, attitudes and practices, but, rather coincidentally, while in Kampung Raja, Sungai Petani, I once stopped to buy canes for our family use and went to a Chinese sundry shop by the roadside. The owner, a middle-aged Chinese gentleman whom we knew as a family while growing up, made a similar observation: He said, “Most of my rattan canes are only bought by Chinese and Indians.”

I am not sure he studied statistics or research methods to state this random but sampled observation into a generalisation, but both these statements made me wonder. Do their observations about “our nature and philosophy of child-raising” relate to our problems with non-compliance to the law?

Corruption and close-one-eye culture?

Baru Bian, the assemblyperson for Ba’Kelalan and Sarawak PKR chairperson, said in a Malaysiakini report that he “expects millions of ringgit to be poured into certain constituencies where its candidates are popular with a view to influence a vote against these candidates.”

On the other hand, the chief minister of Sarawak, under the watch list of the MACC because of the recent Global Witness sting operation and report, has not spared his comments about “the apparent close one eye attitude of the MACC.” He is reported to have said, ‘I won’t cooperate with naughty, dishonest MACC’.

In response to this report, a Malaysiakini reader also wrote as follows:

LittleGiant: The reaction of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud is not surprising as most BN politicians have no respect or fear of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

If Taib Mahmud, a state CM and senior politician, has the nerve to tick off MACC, a high-ranking government agency, how does he expect his government officials and the rakyat to fear corruption and the MACC.

If MACC truly believes in wiping out corruption and has the spine to do its job without fear or favour, it should proceed to take the necessary legal recourse to safeguard its integrity and, therefore, seek an apology from Taib Mahmud for saying “MACC is naughty and dishonest” in its investigations against him.

By the way, if a similar statement had been made by an opposition politician, MACC would have by now filed a case against the politician for slander and the BN leadership would push their supporters to file hundreds of police reports.

The case for corruption watchers?

If what Little Giant says is true, that the BN politicians do already practise a close-one-eye culture to corruption, or, as he and the chief minister also believe that MACC practices “selective persecution”, we have serious corruption problems in the lead-up to our general election. After all, as citizens, all we want is free and fair elections. That is the very nature of a democracy.

On record also, the chairperson of the Election Commission has said, “They have no authority or responsibility to keep a corruption watch.” Nevertheless, he was confident enough to invite a team of Asean member countries to conduct an Election Watch. Presumably, he must believe in how free and fair our elections will be. Malaysia is truly part of Asia, I believe.

My retort and suggestion to the leadership of MACC is: “They should invite a team of Citizen Rangers (2) to become Corruption Watchers under the MACC rules.” Oriental Hearts and Minds Study Institute (OHMSI), our NGO, is open and keen to work with MACC to develop a cadre of Citizen Rangers for this general election.

These General Election Citizen Rangers can be Malaysian citizens who are above 21 years of age who undertake such a professional assignment during the 13th general elections. Preferably, they should hold an undergraduate degree and they can be given minimum training about the powers of both; observation, and the processes of collection of evidence to establish corruption in a court.

If the MACC is willing and serious about this “power of observation and evidence gathering by Citizen Rangers,” OHMSI is willing to work with all citizens from different religious groups and establishments, and movements like Bersih, or more formal establishments like the Bar Council, to create and develop a cadre of “truth seekers” in terms of compliance with the rules and conduct of the general election to begin to kill this disease of bribery and corruption.

Or at least, to make a decent impact on this disease so that we can say with full confidence that the 13th was a freer and fairer set of elections. May God guide Malaysia in this direction.

1. It was a keynote speech at a seminar organised by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), National Productivity Corporation (NPC) and UMW. The late Dr Mokhzani Abdul Rahim was then president of the MEF.

2. The concept of Citizen Rangers is a citizen movement of residents and netizens who voluntarily make a choice to help with compliance to rules and regulations. These can be appointed officially by MACC, to cover all constituencies, and they can be assigned with the responsibility of observation and then to report the same by producing evidence from their observations. I believe that the MACC regulations allow the MACC to develop such undercover agents to undertake such assignments.

KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at kjjohn@ohmsi.net with any feedback or views.

1 Comment »

  1. Anak Mahathir – kroni terbesar Umno?

    Comment by Aidil Yunus — April 11, 2013 @ 12:52 PM | Reply

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