Two tasks for the 450 DAP Councillors to build a New Malaysia – to establish a clean and incorruptible culture of service and to be a force to promote understanding, tolerance, unity and harmony among diverse races, religions and cultures in Malaysia
I am somewhat surprised not that we have a retreat for local councillors, but that we have quite a large number of some 450 local councillors in the country – apart from the 42 DAP Members of Parliament and 119 State Assembly men/women in the country.
DAP has come a long way since our puny establishment 53 years ago, and it is important that the present generation of DAP leaders, in particular the DAP Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Members of Parliament, State Ministers and Exco and State Assembly representatives as well as the 450 local councillors should never forget where the DAP came from and where we want to go – the DAP came from ordinary Malaysians regardless of race or religion and our common objective is to help build a just, clean, free, democratic, united and prosperous Malaysia.
Regardless of our race, religion, class or background, we are first and foremost Malaysians and our motherland is Malaysia – and none other.
I want to outline two great tasks for the 450 DAP Councillors in the building a a New Malaysia – to establish a clean and incorruptible culture of service and to be a force to promote understanding, tolerance, unity and harmony among diverse races, religions and cultures in Malaysia.
One of the greatest achievements of Malaysians on that historic day of the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018 was to save Malaysia from hurtling in the trajectory of a sham democracy, a kakistocracy, a failed state and a global kleptocracy.
Among others, we are now engaged in the great task of transforming Malaysia from a global kleptocracy into a leading nation of integrity. How do we leapfrog to accomplish such a herculeian task?
The past eight months were really historic in the annals of anti-corruption in Malaysia, for never in the last six decades of Malaysian history had there been so many “sharks”, both in size and numbers, been arrested and charged in court for corruption – a former Prime Minister, former FLOM, former Deputy Prime Minister, former Cabinet Ministers and grandees of the previous government who during the height of their power could turn night into day and day into night!
Many Malaysians have complained why the kleptocrats are still free and at large, some pretending to be saviours of the people with daily statements and FaceBook posts, when they had betrayed the national interests by making rampant corruption the norm in Malaysia, resulting in Malaysia being condemned as a global kleptocracy with the dubious honour of being the target of the world’s largest kleptocratic litigation by the United States Department of Justice more than two years ago when it launched its kleptocratic proceedings against the international 1MDB corruption and money-laundering scandal!
But if we are to restore and respect the rule of law, we must put up with such delays as the legal process takes time.
Under the National Integrity Plan initiated by the fifth Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Badawi, Malaysia aimed to be ranked No. 30 by 2008, but ten years later, we are now ranked No. 62 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2017, with a TI CPI score even lower than 23 years ago when the annual TI CPI series was inaugurated in 1995.
But the anti-corruption efforts cannot be confined to hauling, convicting and jailing the “sharks” to courts to face the process of justice, as there must be institutional reforms in the system of governance in the country and nation-wide educational programmes to implant a new culture of integrity and incorruptibility in public service.
This is why the recent call by the Bersatu vice president Abdul Rahman Abdul Rahman for the party to use government resources to hold on to power "by hook or by crook" has caused so much dismay, uproar and heart-burns, for it runs against the very grain of the great national effort on May 9, 2018 to save Malaysia from global kleptocracy and kakistocracy!
Malaysians do not want to change one team of UMNO/Barisan Nasional kleptocrats with another team of Pakatan Harapan kleptocrats, but to eradicate kleptocracy altogether and introduce a new culture of integrity in public service.
This is why I said that for many in DAP and Pakatan Harapan, we prefer to lose power than to hang on to power by corrupt, undemocratic or other devilish means.
I said yesterday that I believed the overwhelming majority of Pakatan Harapan leaders and members do not want to hold on to power “by hook or by crook” or the Pakatan Harapan would be no different from Najib’s UMNO and Barisan Nasional.
A few asked why not all but just “the overwhelming majority” of Pakataln Harapan leaders?
Under the old Barisan Nasional, the overwhelming majority would want to hang on to power “by hook or by crook” – like the MCA President Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong and the UMNO/BN Ministers of the Najib Cabinet.
I think we have made great progress in introducing a new culture of integrity and incorruptibility in public service, where the people through the ballot box have transformed the “overwhelming majority” of those in power from wanting to hold on to power “by hook or by crook” to one which is prepared lose power as they reject the notion of hanging onto power “by hook or by crook”!
The recent Muar incident over the allegation of 30 per cent commission demanded by local politicians over educational development allocations to schools, which had been handled ably by the alacrity with which the Minister of Youth and Sports and MP for Muar, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, had acted by asking his office to lodge a police report over an individual claiming to be “an assistant of the Muar MP” and soliciting 30% commission for services, reminds me of what happened 12 years ago in 2016.
This was when Ong Tee Kiat, who was then the MCA National Vice President and Deputy Higher Education Minister was pilloried by “half-past six” Ministers in Cabinet for speaking out against “leakages”, abuse and misappropriation of public funds meant for Chinese schools, in this particular case,it was a shocking 90% misuse of funds in the RM30,000 allocation for repair of SJKC Kung Yu, where only RM3,000 worth of work was done for a RM30,000 project!
In keeping with the concept of holding on to power “by hook or by crook”, none of the four MCA Ministers in the Cabinet at the time stood up to defend Tee Kiat against the onslaught against him by UMNO Ministers led by the then Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein, who said he would never forgive Tee Kiat or forget the incident.
Pakatan Harapan is very diametrically different from UMNO, MCA and Barisan Nasional. When Sin Chew Daily published the shocking front-page expose of a 30 per cent diversion of school allocations in Muar by an alleged aide of an elected representative, I reacted immediately as a matter of principle to declare that “the diversion of 30 per cent or any percentage of school allocation for any political purpose is sheer corruption and not permitted Pakatan Harapan practice but belongs to Barisan Nasional era of the past, and must be exposed and rooted out and the individuals concerned punished according to the law and sacked if he holds any political office”.
I said there could be no compromise with such corrupt practices and those who are guilty of such corrupt practices, regardless of which Pakatan Harapan party they are from, must be prosecuted to the hilt without any mercy.
I am glad that I was contacted by Syed Saddiq’s parliamentary office to inform me that a police had been lodged over the allegation that a man posing as a parliamentarian's aide was asking for kickbacks from school boards in Muar, Johor.
This case illustrates the world of a difference between the Pakatan Harapan and the Barisan Nasional on the issue of corruption and abuses of power.
DAP’s stand against kleptocracy, abuse of power and all forms of corruption is principled and uncompromising. DAP leaders, whether Ministers, Deputy Ministers, State Ministers and Excos, MPs, State Assembly representatives and local councillors are required to put integrity on top of everything else.
For this reason, I recommend to the DAP Central Executive Committee the establishment of a mechanism to monitor all DAP leaders holding public office, whether as Ministers, Deputy Ministers, State Ministers and Excos, MPs, State Assembly representatives and local councillors especially with regard to integrity and incorruptibility.
As far as the DAP is concerned, the party controls the leaders in government, whether federal or state, and not the other way round of the government controlling the party.
The role of local councillors are critical if Pakatan Harapan is to succeed in transforming Malaysia from a global kleptocracy into a leading nation of integrity.
On 28th February 2017 in Kuala Lumpur , the Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) President, Dato’ Akhbar Satar released the findings of the 2017 Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Asia Pacific Region, which surveyed the public’s perceptions of corruption and the government’s effectiveness in tackling corruption.
21,861 people across 16 countries in the Asia Pacific Region from July 2015 to January 2017 participated in the exercise. The countries surveyed were: Australia, Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Mongolia. Interviews were conducted throughout Malaysia’s 13 states using random sampling. In total, 1,009 respondents in Malaysia were interviewed between September 2016 and December 2016 and the gender distribution was 50% male and 50% female
With regards to the perceived level of corruption, the GCB results found that 60% of the respondents felt the level of corruption in Malaysia had increased and only 11% said that corruption had decreased a little as compared to 40% for the region who felt that corruption had increased and 22 per cent who felt that corruption had decreased..
Interestingly, in the 2013 GCB survey, only 39% of respondents in Malaysia felt corruption had increased.
54% of the Malaysians felt that the management of the economy is the most important problem that the Government should address. 62% of Malaysians feel that current government is handling the fight against corruption badly as compared to 50% for the region.
53% of Malaysian felt that the Government is ineffective in handling the fight against corruption, as compared to 25% in the GCB four years ago in 2013.
41% of Malaysians said that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is doing badly at fighting corruption, while only 25% were of the view that the MACC had handled the task “well”, with 27 per cent in the “don’t know” category.
The institutions perceived to be involved in corruption are in Malaysia: Police (57%), Local Government and Councillors (48%), Tax officials (48%), Business Executives (46%), Government officials (45%), Representatives in Legislature (41%), Prime Minister and his officials (41%), Judges and Magistrates (33%), and religious leaders (31%), as compared to the regional average of Police (39%), Local Government and Councillors (35%), Tax Officials (29%). Business Executives (29%), Government officials (35%), Representatives in Legislature (37%), Prime Minister and his officials (31%),Judges and Magistrates (25%) and Religious Leaders (18%).
From every occupational sector, whether Police, Local Government and Councillors, Tax Offcials, Business Executives, Government Officials, Representatives in Legislature, Prime Minister and his officials, Judges and Magistrates, and religious leaders, Malaysia is more corrupt than the regional average!
It will be interesting to see what progress we have achieved in ensuring integrity and fighting corruption since the historic day in the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018, but we must not rest content until we have achieved better status than the regional average for the 16 Asian-Pacific countries survey by GCB.
In particular, for Local Government and Councillors, I challenge the 450 DAP Local Councillors to give priority to integrity in local government so that we can not only better the regional average of 35%, but be the lead country in the region beating countries which are better than the regional average, viz: Hong Kong (13%), China (14%), Australia (17%), Myanmar (22%), Cambodia (23%), Vietnam (25%), Sri Lanka (28%), Mongolia, (29%) Japan (31%).
The other national challenge which I want to pose to DAP local councillors is to be a force to promote understanding, tolerance, unity and harmony of diverse races, religions and culture in Malaysia.
The clarification by the Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad yesterday that he had never said that the government rejected the recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) in his interview with Sin Chew on Tuesday as all he said was that the sensitivities of all races must be considered should be a lesson all-round.
The MCA leadership had regarded the Sin Chew report as “manna from heaven” and fired off a blizzard of media statements accusing the DAP and Pakatan Harapan on reneging on the Pakatan Harapan manifesto pledge of recognising the UEC , when this was not the case.
I do not expect the MCA leaders to show any regret for such reckless outbursts, just as they had not shown any contrition for aiding and abetting Najib Razak in the monstrous 1MDB kleptocracy, but it should be a salutary reminder of the toxic and vicious politics of lies, hate and fear which they MCA and UMNO politicians are perpetrating.
The Pakatan Harapan manifesto had not promised to recognise the UEC in one hundred days of forming the Federal Government, but to recognise the UEC during the five-year term of office.
I am optimistic that we will be able to fulfil this pledge when the 15th General Election is held - in fact, I do not think we have to wait for five years to recognise the UEC.
But I agree that the sensitivities of all communities should be taken into consideration especially as UMNO and PAS leaders are resorting to the desperate, dangerous and toxic politics of lies, hate and fear in their attempt to create racial and religious polarisation and engender instability in the country.
What is shocking is that MCA leaders are egging the UMNO and PAS leaders to resort to the vicious and toxic politics of lies, fear, hate, race and religion, as in arousing fears among the Malays that the recognit6ion of UEC would threaten Malay rights and interests and this is why we see the MCA co-operating with UMNO and PAS in the recent by-elections, and the forthcoming Cameron Highlands by-election would be no exception
Pakatan Harapan’s greatest challenge is to introduce an all-embracing and inclusive politics in plural Malaysia where very racial and religious group in the country must learn to be aware and respect the sensitivities of other races and religions.
We must not take the sensitivities of other races and religions for granted.
There is a tendency for each racial or religious group to live in their own world, when we must encourage all racial and religious groups to interact, understand and respect each other’s sensitivities.
I am confident that that the desperate and dangerous politicians who are resorting to the toxic and vicious politics of lies, fear, hate, race and religion are fighting a losing battle, as I have confidence that Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, want Malaysia to succeed and become a world top-class nation where we compete with the rest of the world instead of fighting among ourselves.