World is watching Johor state general election on March 12 not because Johor is important but whether a convicted kleptocrat can begin to return as 10th or 11th Prime Minister of Malaysia

The world is following closely the Johor State general election on March 12, 2022 not because Johor is important but whether a convicted kleptocrat can begin to return as the 10th or 11th Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Before May 9, 2018, Malaysians who went overseas were reluctant to admit they were Malaysians to avoid questions on the billion-ringgit 1MDB scandal, which was well-known and infamous worldwide although the subject was censored in Malaysia and Members of Parliament were not allowed to debate the subject in the Malaysian Parliament and on Malaysia becoming a kleptocracy.

In the 22-month Pakatan Harapan government, Malaysians were again proud to be Malaysians for they see action on the 1MDB scandal and see hope not only to end Malaysia as a kleptocracy but a reversal of the national decline of half-a-century where instead of being a world-class great nation, Malaysia lost out to one country after another – Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam. We do not want to continue in this trajectory which will lead Malaysia losing out to more nations, including Indonesia and Philippines.

But all the hopes for change came to an end after 22 months with the Sheraton Move conspiracy in February 2020 ending the five-year mandate of the Pakatan Harapan government, and Johor and Malaysia were back on slippery slope of national decline in the era of pre-May 9, 2018.

In the devastating Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2021, Malaysia dropped five points in score and 11 points in rank in two years, the worst two years for Malaysia in the TI CPI series in the last 27 years since 1995.

If Malaysia does not reverse the national decline, we will be overtaken by the two countries which occupied the bottom of the TI Cpi 1995 – China and Indonesia – by 2025.

Are Malaysians to shout “Apa Malunya” when this happened and Malaysia is regarded by the world as more corrupt than China and Indonesia?

A World Bank publication in late 2020 on “Malaysia’s Approach to Fighting Corruption” listed some of the key initiatives and reforms that were underway when the Pakatan Harapan government was toppled undemocratically, unconstitutionally and illegitimately by the Sheraton Move conspiracy, for example the reintroduction of the Parliamentary Services Act to provide greater independence and autonomy to Parliament to ensure checks and balances on the functioning of the executive (but which had still to be done by two backdoor governments in 24 months), the initiatives to limit the Prime Minister’s tenure to no more than two terms (still to be done), party-hopping by MPs (still to be done), strengthen the electoral system (still to be done), introduce the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (still to be done), an Ombudsman Act to replace the Public Complaints Bureau to improve the management of public complaints (still to be done) and reform of government-linked companies (GLCs) to finalise guidelines for to end GLC political appointments (which is not only not done, but reversed with more GLC political appointments in the last two years).

The World Bank was right that with the toppling of the Pakatan Harapan government after 22 months by the Sheraton Move conspiracy in February 2020, “there is uncertainty whether the anti-corruption reform momentum will be sustained”.

The Johor state general election on March 12, 2022 will be an opportunity for Malaysians to declare that they want to efforts of Pakatan Harapan government to create a New Malaysia, reversing the process of national decline in the last half-a-century and breaking away from a kleptocracy, to continue as Malaysia does not want to end up eventually as a kleptocracy, kakistocracy and a failed state.

Let the Johor State General Election not start the process where Malaysians going overseas again are reluctant to admit they are Malaysians because they want to avoid questions about a convicted kleptocrat becoming the Prime Minister of the country again.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri