Transparency International survey says the police and political parties are perceived by Malaysians to be the country’s most corrupt institutions. If you ask the police why they’re so corrupted, chances are you could be arrested and thrown into prison, cheekily speaking. However, if you ask a politician the same question, they would passionately explain that it’s just perception.
While foreigners might be as surprised as Trump’s victory at the Royal Malaysia Police and political parties’ corruption, average Joes and Janes who walk the streets in Malaysia are used to the country’s corruption. The only thing that would raise the peoples’ eyebrows is how much corrupt money is involved in each corruption case reported.
Generally, people have known that the police and politicians are corrupted. Their level of corruption is legendary. Recently, the people have started joking and mocking corrupt police or politicians for not being smart enough to “get away” with it. Of course, everything started after the head of state – Prime Minister Najib Razak – was caught with both his hands in the cookie jar.
Mr. Najib was caught with US$681 million in his private banking account. He has been offering various versions of stories – often flip-flops and contradicts each other – to his sudden windfall, but none of them is satisfactory explained. If it’s true that his corruption is merely perception, then the U.S. Department of Justice is guilty of having the same perception too.
Therefore, Najib’s warning today that civil servants should not get themselves involved in misappropriation and take away what rightfully belongs to the people, is absolutely hilarious. The prime minister was referring specifically to the arrest of the secretary-general of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, Mohd Arif Ab Rahman, and his two sons by MACC.
Gold bars, 150 luxury handbags, branded watches and foreign currencies were found after officers searched Mr. Arif’s property in USJ3, Subang Jaya, for 12 hours. The designer handbags were from brands such as Chanel, Hermes, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Gucci. The gold bars and Australian and Euro currencies seized alone were estimated to be more than RM5 million (*yawn*).
“These are reminders about wastage. The actions taken by MACC recently are a reminder not to take what are the people’s rights. This belongs to the people. Everything we do is for the people. The projects are for the people. The value adding is for the people” – said Prime Minister Najib, who chose to use a softer word “wastage”, instead of “corruption”.
Thousands of civil servants must have kinda choked out, trying very hard not to laugh, while Najib was lecturing at the Prime Minister’s Department monthly assembly in Putrajaya today. Some couldn’t laugh but were angered as their boss Najib was insulting their intelligence. Besides Najib, wasn’t his own stepson, Riza Aziz, caught with stolen money meant for the people?
Others might have gotten confused, as they scramble to digest Najib’s “do as I say, not as I do” sophisticated advice. As much as Mr. Najib tries to tell the civil servants how caring and honest he is, his thievery in the 1MDB – corruption and money laundering – is legendary. A crook is still a crook, no matter how he suppresses, oppresses and twists the fact.
However, those smart ones would have been able to read between the lines. While he reminds 1.6-million civil servants not to steal money belonging to the people, what he had actually meant was urging them “not to get caught” while stealing. From Najib’s experience, civil servants wishing to steal must be capable of hiding, or getting away from it.
Civil servants should be creative when they get caught. Mr. Najib himself has repeatedly denied he had stolen money originated from 1MDB, despite overwhelming evidence. He also creatively claimed the US$681 million found in his private bank account was a “donation” from royal family of Saudi Arabia, although he isn’t able to provide any compelling proof.
Before committing any major corruption or money laundering, civil servants must also ask themselves if they possess sufficient “network” to get them out of trouble when caught. Najib’s contact is awesome. He has golfed with President Barack Obama. And he managed to get Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister to lie about the kingdom’s donation to him.
It’s desirable for civil servants to possess power, or at least influence, to either fire or hire judges. Former Attorney General Gani Patail was allegedly drafting an arrest warrant against Najib before he gets fired. Najib later hired a friendly-A.G. Apandi Ali, who expectedly clears him of any wrongdoing. The Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General has declared 1MDB as a “Ponzi Scheme“.
Of course, some high-level friends in the Royal Malaysia Police would certainly help. As long as civil servants are willing to spend money greasing the palms of the police, they are not required to spend a single night behind “lock-up”. A police chief could easily help by sending a tweet to the public that it’s a “contempt of court” for anyone dares to discuss a specific case.
More importantly, Najib Razak discourages civil servants from conducting any huge “wastage”, at least for now, because his administration has been borrowing too much – in excess of RM830 billion. To make matter worse, the continuous weakening ringgit doesn’t help the situation in servicing interest on the accumulated national debt.
With national coffer running dry, Mr. Najib, the plunderer-in-chief, is reduced to cherry picking on who can continue to “waste” and who can’t. But there’s a hidden message behind the recent aggressive arrests of unimportant politicians by MACC. It is to dress Najib administration sexily in order to scam dumb voters before the coming 14th general election.
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