When the rich and powerful aren’t really interested in the people

To some extent, Malaysians are still very feudalistic.

We look up to people with positions, power and money and we listen to them more. Since they have “made it”, we assume they must be more credible and capable of doing something right.

We do not care much about how they became rich and powerful, whether through legitimate means or otherwise.

The rich get to advise the government more. People with positions in government will then formulate policies and dispense programmes as if these tycoons know best.

We assume that the rich and powerful act in good faith for the good of society in general. But do they? If we look at recent events, many rich and powerful people have not really acted in the best interest of society or the nation.

We hold them in high regard but they have essentially engaged in collusion and scheming. They bribed public officials and helped conceal wrongdoing. They advised the government to come up with more devious schemes so that they could make even more money.

We now have a new government in Putrajaya. But is the nexus between the rich and the powerful still the same? Can the new administration withstand the corrupting onslaught of the rich?

I really wish the new administration would be vigilant. In the past, we saw successive new administrations gather new collections of cronies. It is not difficult to identify “who is in” and “who is out” when leadership changes hands.

Regardless of who is in and who is out, politicians can’t run away from the corrupting influences of big-time businessmen.

There will be new proposals to “rejuvenate”, “revitalise” and “reinvigorate” the economy from business people. But to me, it is better to take all this with a heavy pinch of salt.

Policymakers must work harder and not depend on business people too much for advice. Sometimes it is better for them to double check with NGOs, public interest groups, academics and trade associations rather than depend on individual businessmen.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.