We Shouldn’t Be Cowed


By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

What the country is undergoing today is something very unprecedented and could lead to uncertainty if left unresolved. The scandal brought about by the uncovering of funds amounting to RM2.6 billion in the Prime Minister’s personal account has impacted the country’s standing in the world community. Today Malaysia is known for all the wrong reasons.

We are being cheekily termed as a banana republic, a government on autopilot, and what is even worse, a kleptocracy. The online Farlex Free Dictionary defines kleptocracy as “a government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal and is ruled by a thief or thieves”. It is derived from the Greek word “klept” which means “thief”.

The Prime Minster, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak is under pressure to come clean regarding the unaccounted money in his personal account.  The matter was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in July as having come from companies linked to the troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd or better known as 1MDB.

Since establishment in 2009, the so-called sovereign fund investment arm of the nation is nothing but trouble, notwithstanding its affinity to Najib’s favourite term “1Malaysia.” As things go, there is no oneness at all. The oneness is only confined to one individual not the rakyat, as we would want to believe. The contradiction is enormous and it does not take a genius to unravel the truth.

Although the country’s anti-corruption commission has cleared Najib of “any wrong doing” claiming that the money was a donation, the commission’s finding does not resonate with the rakyat. Former Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir who was quoted in Malaysian Insider on 10 August 2015, has rubbished the whole caper as “bullshit”. He wondered who would “donate” USD700 million by simply depositing the amount into someone else’s account?

An old army friend, a retired general, did not hide his anger when alluding to the episode. He termed it as “a betrayal of trust”. As cadets undergoing training at the military college we were taught the fundamentals of leadership. The précis describes leadership in such glowing terms. “He should lead by example. He should be in front rallying his men and leading them into battle. He should not cower and show his men that he fears. He should be a good manager, managing scarce resources intelligently so there will be no wastage. Honesty, integrity and credibility are his enduring qualities.” Looks like these lessons in military leadership do not apply in Malaysia. And this piqued the general in no small way. “I am miffed by what’s taking place. It’s sheer absurdity,” he exclaimed.

The absurdity is being exacerbated by the Prime Minister’s loyalists who are quick to his defense. Nazri, the Tourism Minister said that the RM2.6 billion is from “a friendly Arab nation who wanted certain political parties to win the last general election.” If that is so then GE13 should be declared null and void.

And while the imbroglio continues, ordinary Malaysians are beginning to feel the effects of the economic crunch brought about by a plunging ringgit, falling oil exports and, to an extent, the 1MDB saga. Prices of essentials, especially imported goods, have spiralled out of control. The risk of the country going the way of Greece is great. And should we go the Greek way who would be kind enough to bail us out?

Keeping the political cum financial scandal under wraps tops the list of priorities by Putrajaya. The BN Government is going out of its way to ensure that news of its undoing does not reach the masses. The social media has now come under scrutiny. The likelihood of online news portals be regulated by new restrictions is imminent.

The rakyat have to speak up. We have to tell the people in Putrajaya that we no longer condone their wrong-doings and allow them to run roughshod over us. Our right to speak freely and be heard must not be trampled upon. Let us not be cowed into submission.

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