Wednesday, 21 July 2010

What Are They Saying?

Nothing else to listen to what others are saying.

Here are three articles gleaned from the Net. The first on corruption by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who dares to speak but dare not act (like leaving UMNO), the second by Dato' Ariff "Sakmongkol AK47" Sabri, who also dares to speak (this time on the Malay mindset and status quo) but is essentially an eloquent observer, and third is Dr, Tan Kee Kwong, who is making loud noises now on FELDA, so we gotta watch whether he will act when he is given the chance in due time.

Please read:

By Tengku Razaleih Hamzah,


The word “corruption” comes from a Latin word meaning “to break” or “to destroy”. Corruption is a cancer that steals from the poor, eats away at governance and moral fibre, and destroys trust. Although corruption exists in both the private and public sector, the corruption of the public sector is a more fundamental evil. This is because the public sector is the enforcer and arbiter of the rules that hold us together, the custodians of our common resources.
  • Corruption is the abuse of public office for personal gain.
  • Corruption exacts a huge toll on our economy
  • In a survey of more than 150 high ranking public officials and top citizens from over 60 developing nations, these officials ranked corruption as the biggest obstacle to development and growth in their countries.
  • Corruption empties out the public purse, causes massive misallocation of resources, dampens trade and scares away investors
  • The World Bank estimates that corruption can reduce a country’s growth rate by 0.5 to 1 percentage points per year. Where there is a lack of transparency and a weak court system, investors stay away.
  • Corruption is a form of theft. But it is a form of theft that also damages what is not stolen. This is because corruption involves the capture of decisions involving public funds. Corrupt decisions mis-allocate public resources and cause tremendous waste in the expenditure of public money. Public money is poured down the drain when projects are selected not because of the value they deliver to the public but because of what can be skimmed from them.
  • But corruption is more than an economic cost. It is a curse that attacks the root of the tree. Corruption destroys trust, which is nothing less than the glue holding a society and its institutions together. When it becomes rampant and is conducted with impunity, it also demoralizes even those public servants not involved in it. The common people’s experience with government breeds the expectation that they need to pay before things will move. Small businesses suffer as city hall officials come on their rounds to collect mandatory “donations.”
It is time we recognized corruption as the single biggest threat to our nation. In our economy, corruption is the root of our inability to to make the economic leap that we know we are capable of. There is no other reason why a country so blessed with natural resources, a favourable climate and such immense talent should not have done a lot better than we have.

In our political system, corruption is the real reason why our political parties refuse to reform. In the party I belong to it has debased a once noble nationalism and a concern with the welfare of marginalised people into a rush for the gravy train. The economic development we must bring our people is reduced to nothing more than patronage, and patronage is inflated into a right.

The root cause is in our political parties. It is an open secret that tender inflation is standard operating procedure. Within the parties and among politicians, it is already an understood matter that party followers must be ‘fed’. Politics is an expensive business, after all. Where else are we to get the funds? Thus theft of public goods is normalised and socialised among an entire community, and what we had planned to attain by capability is seen by some as something to be attained through politics.

Politicians are the villains in this piece, but they themselves the villains but they themselves are also trapped. The leadership is trapped because they are beholden to political followers who demand that they are looked after. They demand patronage, and the turn the party’s struggle for the welfare of a community into their sense of entitlement to that patronage. So they take their slice of the project. By the time they they and each person down the line all the way down to the contractor takes a lot and there is not enough left to do a decent job, bridges collapse, highways crack, stadiums collapse, hospitals run out of medicine, schoolchildren are cheated in their textbooks. Corruption may look to its perpetrators like a crime without victims, but it leaves a trail of destruction.

No domain seems safe. The humble school canteen is the domain of Umno branch chiefs. The golf course become a favoured way to pass the cash over. We can place bets for RM5000 a hole. For some reason one party keeps losing. And there are 18 holes. Money thus obtained is legal. It can be banked.

We spend billions on the refurbishment of defence equipment; on fighter jets, frigates and submarines. Whe a supplier lays on an exorbitant commission to some shadowy middleman, that commision is built into the price the government pays. That money comes from the ordinary Malaysian.

Military toys are very expensive. I remember from my time in the Ministry of Finance. Even then, patrol craft cost about RM280mil each.

We loved Exocet missiles. As Minister, I had to sign each time the military fired an Exocet missile for testing. Every time we test fired one of them, RM2mil literally went out with a bang. When the UK went to war against Argentina, the UK Government came back to borrow them from us because outside of the UK we had the most of them in the world. We must have been under some extraordinary military threat which I did not understand.

The list is long: procurement of food and clothing for the military, medicine for hospitals and so on. In all these things the Government has been extraordinarily generous. And paid extraordinarily high prices.

Government servants have to face pressure from politicians who expect to be given these contracts because they need money for politics. This corruption is justified because the party’s struggle is sacred. The civil servants can either join the game or be bypassed.

For every government job big or small that goes down, someone feels entitled to a slice of the pie, not because they can do the job, not because they have some special talent or service to offer, but because it is their right. They do not realise that what they demand is the abuse of power for the sake of personal gain, or party gain. They elect those leaders among themselves who are most capable of playing this game. So we get as our leaders people who have distinguished themselves not by their ability to serve the public but at their long proven ability to be party warlords, which is to say, distributors of patronage. And that is a euphemistic way of saying that because of corruption the old, stupid and the criminal are elevated to positions of power while young, talented and honest individuals are frozen out. Corruption destroys national wealth, erodes institutions and undermines character. And it also destroys the process by which a community finds its leaders.

The consequence of this is that the majority are marginalized. Government contracts circulate among a small group of people. Despite all attempts at control and brainwashing, the majority soon catch up to the game.

This game cannot last forever. The longer it is played the more people hate the government and the governing class. They vote against the government, not for the Opposition. They resent the government of the day. In 2008 we saw how the Malaysian people feel about the abuse of power and incompetence caused by corruption.

Since party funding has become the excuse and the vehicle for wholesale corruption, any measure we take to fight it must include the reform of political funding.

It is time we enact a law regulating donations to political parties. Donations must be capped. No donor is to give more than a specified limit, on pain of prosecution. This it to try to prevent special interests from dominating parties. Such money is source of corruption.

Let us limit political donations by law. On top that let the government set up a fund to provide funding to registered political party for their legitimate operational needs. This money can be distributed based on objective criteria and governed by an independent panel. This would close off the excuse that the parties need to raise political funding through government contracts.

Another idea is that we should freeze the bank accounts of people who are being investigated for corruption. Public servants and politicians are by law required to be able to demonstrate the sources of their assets. Those with suspiciously ample asssets should have these assets frozen until they can come up with evidence that they have accumulated them by political means.

This may sound harsh, but only because we live in a country in which almost no one ever gets nabbed for corruption. In China, those found guilty are shot.

In Malaysia we read about MACC investigating this and that but there are no convictions. No one has been punished. We are the nation with no consequences. The MACC finds no fault. The courts do not convict. And our newspapers do not have the independence and vigour to follow up.

We have an MACC with no results. It was a good idea to model our anti-corruption agency after one of the most successful in the world, Hong Kong’s ICAC. However we have taken just bits and pieces of that model. So really this will be no more than PR exercise unless we adopt the model wholesale.

We should repeal the OSA so that people can go to the MACC and the authorities with documentary information on corrupt practice. As things stand, any document which might be incriminating to corrupt public officials is stamped an Offical Secret. A whistleblower risks 7 yrs jail for being in possession of such documents.

We need to identify rot eating through our roots as a nation. It is corruption. We cannot expect the corrupt to embrace reform. It is time for our citizens to stand up and call corruption by its name, and demand reform.

Tengku Razaleigh
Speech at the launching of the book The Shafee Yahaya Story – Estate Boy to ACA Chief by Datin Kalsom Taib
Saturday, 19.6.2010
Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam Malaysia, Bukit Kiara, Kala Lumpur

This audio recording is a take from Patrick Teoh's blog on corruption:

This by Dato' Sakmongkol,
The changing mental landscape of Malays?-2

The government says they are doing all these. What I can see it is all talk and no action. I sometimes cannot comprehends the reasoning and logics given by judges, including those sitting in the highest court. DS Najib has been talking non-stop of everything that can bring good to the country. But I didn't see any result, as if he forget everything he said once he finished talking. Our DPM has a brain more like a 17-year olds. And I didn't hear anything worth listening from the UMNO vice-presidents, and what more senior ministers, especially Rais Yatim. When I think of the country's future I feel hopeless. I don't think UMNO, under the present leadership, can lead the country forward. I hope your writings will be more forceful and cover wider subjects especially on reinventing the Malay minds.

We now move on to a another portion from the Malay gentleman's note.

I hope I am wrong in treating the Malay gentleman's thinking as being representative of the typical Malay man. I would have thought, the things that matter most in the mind of the Malay man and all Malaysians is economic development. That's the first function and most important at that of the government.

In what kind of environment is economic development and advances best achieved? This basic question needed to be looked at carefully. Recently, in the monthly or weekly assembly the PM has with civil servants, he spoke of creating an ecosystem where the best talent emerges. I suppose by that he means the culture- set of beliefs, social precepts, principles by which the best among peers will emerge to lead the nation. Such a proposal is laudable.

How do we achieve that in an environment where we know, the talent level among our civil servants is wanting in many aspects? Our bureaucratic lethargy perhaps is slightly better than the infamous Indian bureaucracy. We share the same default position-taking as far as revolutionary and unconventional ideas are concerned. Our default position to new ideas is to say no. No to this project. No to that proposal. But eventually the proposals we first submitted resurface by a new proposer under a new package.

So, I would guess that the default position when our PM is talking about an ecosystem that promotes excellence and a culture that allows emergence of talent is- Go And Fly Kite. We hear recently of widespread stoppage of directives from politicians when powerful KSU's demand written instructions from politicians before they will even commit any work. Because the powerful fraternity of KSUs still remember when one of their own, Dr. Abdul Aziz was done in by Anwar Musa. So it's now retribution time. So I am skeptical when the PM speaks about that ecosystem, as to whether his exhortations went down well.

Let's build that ecosystem in UMNO politics first. Create that culture where the talented can prosper. The fastest way to lose public confidence is to contradict ourselves . if we have this basic stand of wanting to create such an ecosystem, let's set that ecosystem in UMNO politics.

Our system as it is now, is that of a privileged society based on the privilege of property( read wealthy) and rank( read lineage). Desiring the ecosystem which the PM wants, requires the cessation and giving up of a privileged society based on the privilege of property and rank FOR a society where men are rewarded according to their ability and contribution to society.

The universal principle borne out in history is that only when men are encouraged to give their best will society progress. So the ecosystem which the PM mentioned must incorporate the principle of creating a culture that makes it worth for a man to give his best. That can only occur when the principle that a man is justly rewarded in accordance to his ability ,diligence and determination is put in place or willed in place. In an ecosystem where the lazy and the incompetent were rewarded as much as the industrious and the intelligent,, we will end with an ecosystem where the abler will hold back so as not to work harder than their under-performing brethren.

Next, the leadership.

And finally, by Dr Tan Kee Kwong

UMNO "Tak Boleh Pakai"
By Patrick Lee and Jamilah Kamarudin

FMT EXCLUSIVE PETALING JAYA: The son of Gerakan co-founder Tan Chee Koon , Tan Kee Kwong has spent much of his life as a doctor before joining politics through Gerakan in 1995.

He then went on to assume the role of Segambut MP for three terms before it was given to Gerakan member Ma Woei Chyi in the 2008 general election. Segambut now belongs to DAP's Lim Lip Eng.

Once land and cooperatives deputy minister (1999-2004), Tan also sat on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), questioning allegations of government mismanagement during his tenure.

He then quit Gerakan in September 2008 to join PKR, and has since remained an outspoken critic of the Najib administration. Tan currently sits on the party's central leadership council, and has been known to call PKR a “party of the future”.

In the final piece of the two-part interview, Tan talks to FMT about his experience in the Gerakan party and his disillusionment with the ruling government.

FMT: How did you join Gerakan?

Tan: In 1994, I was working quietly as a general practioner and looking after my aged parents. I was also doing some social work at Pusat Bantuan Sentul. I was then headhunted by Alex Lee, Gerakan vice-president (at the time), and joined the party two months before the 1995 general election.

Segambut was a new area in 1995. So I was asked to be a candidate. At that time I was under the mistaken notion that BN was doing okay and Mahathir Mohamad was all right.

In 1995, I won with a majority of 12,500 (votes). In 1999, when Najib (Tun Razak) won in Pekan by 200 votes, I won by 8,500. At that time, the BN got a hammering because of the Sodomy I (case). And then in 2004, I won with a massive majority of 17,000.

Did you join Gerakan because your father was one of the co-founders of the party?

(I joined) because it has a multi-racial approach to politics, which I believe in strongly. And of course, Gerakan started as an opposition party.

Were you in politics before 1995?

No. Never. I never joined any other party before Gerakan. Although politically aware, I was never a card-carrying member of any party.

You were in Gerakan until 2008. Why did you leave Gerakan?

Well, there are two reasons. One, I cannot respect the current leadership of Gerakan. (Minister in the Prime Minister's Department) Koh Tsu Koon is totally ineffective as a leader. Although he is in charge of KPI (Key Performance Indicators), he failed his own KPI in Penang.

You (Koh Tsu Koon) were a Chief Minister for four terms, but you contested and lost by a massive majority of 10,000. So if you failed your KPI, how can you be a minister of KPI? As politicians, our KPI is to win elections, (hence) my own KPI is very good.

And secondly, and more importantly, Umno 'tak boleh pakai'. We (other parties in the Barisan Nasional) try to talk until our saliva drips -- talk outside cannot, so talk inside (proper channels), (but) it's wasting our time! They (Umno) are just not interested. Honestly from the bottom of my heart, they are totally not interested.

They want to use the BN component parties (as) a rubber stamp (for) their cause. And now it is very clear that Umno has got only two 'perjuangan': to 'gasak' and 'sapu' as fast as possible, and play racial and religious politics.

So how can I support an entity like that?

You were in BN for 13 years, so during those years, you tried...

Many, many times. Not just myself. The MCA, MIC, PPP. (They all) tried; but it was no use. Bloody waste of time. And now Chua Soi Lek (asks for) equal voice. Please lah brother, they will never give you equal voice.

One example was (Gerakan's discussions on the) ISA. Many years ago, Gerakan made a lot of noise about the ISA. We debated about this, until the order came from Umno to (former Gerakan president) Dr Lim Keng Yaik to tell him to shut up.

Why be a politician when you cannot say anything? Only Umno can say, (but) you cannot say.

So you're saying Umno 'tak boleh pakai?'

They are irrelevant to today's needs (and) everything. The prime minister himself doesn't even follow the guidelines. He openly tried to bribe the people in the Hulu Selangor and Sibu (by-elections), and he dares to say that he is taking care of the poor and the needy! I don't know how he's got a face to do that!

More like rape the poor and the needy. (Former finance minister) Daim (Zainuddin) said the other day, “Oh, we must have a corruption-free government (and) no hanky-panky.” He should be the last person qualified to talk like that! They think we were born yesterday, that we are only two years old!

(In comparison) yesteryear's leaders (were) different. When my father was in the Opposition, he started a hospital called Sentosa Medical Centre. In 1972, (former prime minister) Tun Abdul Razak came and opened it. This is what politics is about: about changing your thoughts and your mindset. Nothing personal (involved). Nowadays, if they don't stab you in the back, you're lucky already.

Last time, the Seenivasagam brothers used to argue with Tunku (Abdul Rahman) like mad in Parliament, but later, they (were seen) eating and drinking tea together. What is happening now?

And Umno has strayed far, far away from its original struggle.

What do think was its original struggle?

It was to fight for the poor and the needy. They championed the cause of the teachers, the fishermen, paddy planters, and so on. Umno was a very poor party. Now (if) you go and look at its AGM, look at the type of cars they are driving. Now, their struggles are all about finding contracts.

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