Call on Sabah and Sarawak to save Malaysia from kleptocracy

Over the past few months, Malaysia has been hit by three major shocks.

The first shock was when the kleptocracy unit of the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the United States initiated what is the largest civil action in the country to date to seize US$1 billion in assets linked to 1MDB including multi-million-dollar penthouse apartments in New York, a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills and paintings by Monet and Van Gogh.

The second shock was when the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) found RM114 million in the possession of the top two officials of the Sabah Water Department including almost RM54 million in cash, 9 luxury cars, 20kg of jewellery, 94 handbags and 127 land grants. This was the biggest ever domestic seizure undertaken by the MACC.

The third shock was when Malaysians discovered that the government had adopted Hadi Awang’s private member’s Syariah Bill as part of the government’s order of business in the current parliamentary sessions.

The implications from these three big shocks have not yet work themselves out but it has already done the country’s reputation much harm, both domestically as well as internationally. We are now known for being one of the world’s worst kleptocratic nations being led by a “corruption fugitive” as the Prime Minister. We have made headlines in the international press for wanting to ban “hot dogs” from our restaurants.

It would not be wrong to use the analogy of a frog being slowly boiled alive to describe what is happening in Malaysia right now. The impact of all these major shocks are only being felt a little at a time by the people. But when the time arrives when we find out we are truly ‘cooked’, it would be too late to reverse our fortunes.

We need a movement to save Malaysia from being boiled alive and that movement must start in Sabah and Sarawak for the following reasons:

(i) Firstly, Sabah and Sarawak are in the best position to stand firm against any efforts to pass laws in a manner that would harm the social harmony which exists between the various communities, both Muslim and non-Muslim, in these two states. This would include making a firm stand against the manner which Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill is being put forth in parliament.

(ii) Secondly, Sabah and Sarawak needs to make a firm stand against the corruption which has taken away billions of Ringgit from the people of both states and from much needed infrastructure projects that could have benefitted many millions of people rather than going into the pockets (or personal safes) of selected individuals.

(iii) Thirdly, Sabah and Sarawak must lead the way for the decentralisation of power and autonomy away from the federal government so there can be more accountability and empowerment at the state and local levels. In other words, local democracy and accountability needs to be restored and strengthened.

Hence, I issue an SOS call for the start of a campaign for Sabah and Sarawak to Save Malaysia (SSSM) from the clutches of kleptocracy, corruption and centralisation of power. Sabah and Sarawak must lead the way for the rest of Malaysia to follow and not isolate themselves from the rest of Malaysia.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah