ONE must welcome the recent outburst of the recently retired top cop over police links to crime, corruption in the force and among politicians, and the heavy influence of the home minister in the appointment of top police officers.
But it all started with the erosion of institutions, emasculation of the civil service, undermining of competence, autocratic rule by successive prime ministers, and unilateral decisions following the riots of May 13, 1969. Umno/Alliance lost their two-thirds majority for a while, and there was backlash – some say an engineered one – from the Malay community.
The rot accelerated when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ascended to become prime minister in 1981. His high-handedness caused a major challenge to him by Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Dr Mahathir’s former deputy, Tun Musa Hitam, for the Umno leadership.
Dr Mahathir beat Tengku Razaleigh by the skin of his teeth for the Umno president’s post, while Musa lost narrowly to Tun Ghafar Baba. Tengku Razaleigh challenged the results in court, which ruled in his favour, but instead of new elections, Dr Mahathir formed a new Umno.
Umno Baru – the current Umno – excluded Tengku Razaleigh, Musa, and those who supported them. The first chance he got, he moved against the judiciary, making it effectively an instrument of the state.
Eventually, all semblance of transparency, good governance and accountability was removed, the civil service shunted out from decision-making, and plum projects in power generation, tolled roads and maintenance contracts, among others, went to cronies – at very favourable rates, making billionaires out of some.
But as the judiciary and enforcement agencies, whose heads were effectively appointed by the prime minister, came under the sphere of influence of effectively corrupt, unscrupulous, greedy politicians, the institutions that were to have upheld the constitution and rule of law deteriorated.
Many of the corrupt went uninvestigated because of influence and pressure from the power-crazy top who brooked no dissent, honest or otherwise. The selective prosecution of opponents of the ruling political elite took place frequently and unfairly.
We all knew the injustice that prevailed, all of us. Some chose to be part of it, justifying it as necessary; some chose to fight it, with varying degrees of success and discomfort. Some paid a huge price, with their lives or many years in jail or lost opportunities, and faced continuing persecution.
But we knew all along, did we not, of these things that existed from long ago. And, we got increasingly fed up with it, and collectively as a nation, got rid of the worst of them through the polls, when Umno/Barisan Nasional suffered their first-ever defeat in national elections. How sweet that victory!
But how bitter the loss! To a backdoor government caused by ‘frogs’ jumping from one party to the next. And, a wily old man who had most of the country eating out of his hands for a while, thinking he had turned over a new leaf, and betraying the trust that the people had placed in him. The trust to carry out reform under the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, and under the same manifesto, to hand over power to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Instead, he schemed and he dithered, and he skilfully manipulated public opinion into believing he had won the elections when his party, Bersatu, took just 13 seats out of the 52 – or a mere 25% – contested for the worst record of any party in PH in the May 2018 general election.
His scheming got the better of him, however, when Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin outmanoeuvred Dr Mahathir, even as the old fox tried to form a unity government that would have given him dictatorial powers.
The worst-ever, illegitimate, backdoor government that Muhyiddin heads used the ultimate dictatorial powers – emergency – to stay in power, but it could only have been done with the practice of party-hopping legitimised by Dr Mahathir with judicial connivance then.
The former top cop’s latest statements, if it needs revelation, reveal how the corruption of politicians tops everything else. We knew that some police officers were in cahoots with crime cartels. But it still surprised us when then inspector-general of police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador revealed that some elements in the force were trying to remove him.
And, we knew a long time ago that there was corruption among politicians. Go after political “frogs”, top cop tells MACC.
He urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate graft in political defections in the country. While he fights corruption in the force, he said, politicians who party-hop have made corruption a habit.
“I fight corruption in the force, but I see corruption everywhere in power-drunk politics.
“One moment the ‘frog’ (is) just there, another moment, it croaks there. What’s that? Corruption,” Malaysiakini reported. For a fuller appreciation of what Hamid said, just watch this video. See, feel and hear his palpable frustration and despair at what is happening, just as many of us have despaired over the years.
We know that despite Hamid’s urging, MACC won’t investigate the politicians. Why? Because the head of MACC was appointed by the prime minister, and with the stroke of a pen, can be removed by the prime minister as well.
What will change the situation? Reform, of course, which Dr Mahathir stalled and stopped in the PH government. And how will reform come again? Only by a change in government. Unless this government is changed at the polls or through a parliamentary process, nothing will change. And that’s bad. Very bad, for all of us, each and every one.
I know many of us are faded, jaded, and have lost hope, but we must not give up now. We did it once before, and we can do it again. If we put the interests of the nation above everything else and stand together. Ultimately, we will all benefit. We have no other choice.
This time, let’s put the right people in place, not crooks and charlatans. The starting point of all change is to stop corruption, first and foremost, and that always starts with throwing out a corrupt government. This government is certainly that, even coming to power through corrupt means. – The Vibes, May 4, 2021
P. Gunasegaram loves this quote from a contemporary politician who is doing great things right now: “Corruption is just another form of tyranny” – Joe Biden. Guna is executive director of advocacy organisation Sekhar Institute and editorial consultant of The Vibes