Until and unless Umno in particular cleans up its act, there will be no takers for Najib's rhetoric that 'all's well' in the country.
In Malaysia, however, fever of a different kind is on the high, that too at an alarming rate – the fever of telling lies.
Mind you, the lies come from the mouth of none other than the country’s “captain” – Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. And the lies are being told at breakneck speed all because of the impending 13th general election.
A shame that the ruling federal government has to resort to lies to safeguard its position in the coming general election, never mind if these lies harm the rakyat in the long run.
Lies like “all’s well” and “the Barisan Nasional is a government for all” leave you feeling nauseated. Time and again, in utter desperation, Najib, the Umno and BN chief, has verbally whipped the opposition Pakatan Rakyat for being impotent and failing to deliver as promised.
Well, Pakatan has only been in “business” since 2008 and is still “learning the ropes” while BN has been around post-independence and has yet to do good on its promise of uniting the people and maintaining harmony.
It was no serendipity but the April 28 riots that took place in the heart of Kuala Lumpur revealed the ugly truth – that unity is no longer the nation’s strength.
Had unity been revered, no former army personnel, burger sellers or pasar malam traders would have dared made life hell for a non-Malay who was the face behind the April 28 rally calling for clean and fair elections in the country.
The hatred displayed against Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga and the call for her citizenship to be revoked by the “extremist Malays” of this country, made it clear all is not well with this nation that turns 55 on Aug 31.
The warnings levelled at the non-Malays to kowtow to the “rightful heir” of this country remain an on-going battle and yet Najib and his band keep crying out loud that “all is well”. Is it really?
While the rakyat can keep guessing as to when the generel election will be held, they however need not wonder what is in store for them in the run-up to the polls, dubbed the nation’s most challenging election ever.
For now, it is “goodies” galore in the country, with the premier and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin turning to the only weapon they have been using throughout their never-ending political career – that of bribery.
On June 16, Najib, in declaring open the RM30 million Sabah Handicraft Centre, said piped water supply may finally reach close to a quarter of a million people in the interior areas of Sabah.
A loan of RM235 million has been approved by the Rural and Regional Development Ministry for Sabah to build a water treatment plant and pipelines totalling over 52km, which would benefit about 200,539 people in the interior.
It took Najib four years to take the trouble to go to Keningau and deliver the “good” news. The sad truth is that the humble people living in the interiors of Sabah have always been taken for granted by the powers-that-be.
However, with the general election looming, what better way for the federal government to display its magnanimity than by playing “saviour” of these people?
‘Culprits’ remain free
Many such money-splurging acts are feverishly being carried out by BN, with the intention of misleading the rakyat into believing that the BN-administered federal government cares.
Try as hard as you can, it is impossible to give BN the benefit of the doubt, based on its far from impressive track record, post-2008. So many wrongdoings have taken place but has the federal government acted in a honourable way to correct the situation? No, on the contrary, the “culprits” are given a free rein to continue behaving as they wish.
The miscreants are none other than the Cabinet ministers themselves, having been politicians for ages.
BN’s domineering partner, Umno, had allegedly emptied the nation’s purse of RM12 billion, no thanks to the politicians who ran the Port Klang Free Zone. Then there was the RM250-million National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal.
Billions of ringgit more have allegedly been siphoned off – be it through bribery, cronyism, bailouts, non-performing loans, overspending of taxpayers’ hard-earned money and even denuding the country’s precious forests for timber.
The RM976.7 million public fund given to concessionaire Maju Holdings in the controversial sale of Kuala Lumpur-Putrajaya Highway (MEX) to EP Manufacturing Bhd is as good as gone.
A 2009 High Court order to former Malaysia Airlines chairman Tajudin Ramli to pay up the RM589 million owed to Danaharta has conveniently gone unheeded.
Above all, it is the plundering of the national oil company, Petronas, that takes the cake. Since its inception in 1974, Petronas had allocated RM431 billion to the government.
Of that amount, RM236 billion was given to the government between 2006 and 2009, during the premiership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Was the massive sum successfully utilised to generate new sources of income?
Until today, this little secret stays hidden in the hearts of a few Umno leaders, who know the answer as to where and how the funds were used.
Over a decade, Malaysia has lost a whopping RM1.08 trillion (US$338 billion) in illicit outflows – the fourth highest in the developing world.
Stop the greed for money, power
Until and unless Umno in particular cleans up its act, there will be no takers for Najib’s rhetoric that “all’s well” in the country.
In June 2005, former deputy prime minister and Umno deputy president, Ghafar Baba, had lamented that money politics involved in Umno elections for a supreme council post was not a mere RM1,000 or RM2,000 or RM1 million or RM2 million; it ranged from RM10 million to RM50 million!
Has anything changed since then? Hardly.
The people remember too well how former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Isa Samad was suspended from Umno and his ministerial post in 2005 because of money politics.
This sandiwara or drama to bluff the people paid off handsomely for Isa who, after three short years, revived his political career after winning his state seat during a by-election at Bagan Pinang, Negeri Sembilan.
Having clinched the state seat, Isa was then made chairman of Felda, which, despite wide objections, was listed on the Bursa Malaysia Main Board as Felda Global Ventures.
Also indulging in money politics were Malacca Chief Minister Ali Rustam and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, but unlike Isa, this duo was let off with a warning, with their Umno positions remaining intact.
Then there was Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek Hussein who admitted to having received a regular “cash donation” to support his branch activities, the amount credited into his personal bank account.
Awang Adek claimed there was nothing criminal in doing so and offered to show proof that the money was used for the branch activities. But why did he have to use his personal account if it was “nothing personal”?
Also in the news is Muhyiddin. Last year, when asked about the alleged corruption involving his aide, he said he was looking into the case and would act accordingly.
Has there been any news about this from Muhyiddin? Or, for that matter, why did he refuse to follow procedures and report the matter to the authorities?
Unfortunately, Teoh Beng Hock was not as “lucky”. For a mere RM2,000, this aide to a DAP politician was harassed and intimidated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on July 15, 2009, at its 14th floor office in Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam. His ending – Teoh was found dead the next day, sprawled on the building’s fifth floor rooftop.
Is all “really well” in Malaysia, Mr Prime Minister?
Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.