From Walter Sandosam
Malaysia is a most sought-after tourist destination. It has fared very well over the years as shown by the contribution of the tourism sector to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
A key attraction – in addition to the vast green expanses, beautiful beaches and variety of flora and fauna – is our cultural heterogeneity.
This has resulted in the destination being a melting pot of races, religions and cultures. Its potpourri of food is second to none in this region as it caters to the diverse palates of tourists from across the globe.
Amidst this paradise that is Malaysia, there are 3Cs that are not so obvious to the casual observer: the culture of corruption, cronyism and complacency, which have the potential to wreck this paradise.
The first two are easily recognised, as much has been articulated about them. Malaysia’s ranking on corruption perception indices, both local and foreign, is testimony to this sad state of affairs, notwithstanding the measures taken to rid the country of this evil.
Integrity appears a lost virtue; money and materialism are the new reference points. The recent outburst by a minister at our gateway entry point, KLIA, at which tourists get the first flavour of the country, is said to have highlighted a “culture of corruption”.
Remedial action at KLIA has been taken pursuant to a Cabinet deliberation, but damage has been done to our image as a tourist haven.
The cronyism element – irrespective of golden promises by politicians seeking to garner votes – still rears its ugly head, with those close to the elected government of the day being appointed to head, or be directors at, GLCs and related entities.
This is a disease hard to eradicate. Sadly, meritocracy is absent in many instances, resulting in political disunity as the ruling coterie appoints cronies as a reward for loyalty or “services offered”.
Following on is the third ‘C’ – complacency. It can also be defined as inattentiveness, sloppiness, carelessness or negligence. At its zenith, it is a combination of all of the above.
One cannot be faulted for concluding that the stellar service once rendered by the civil service is now only a distant memory.
It appears that lethargy and complacency have creeped in. The auditor-general’s report continues to highlight functional gaps in the civil service.
While many instances spring to mind about this complacency and lack of proper maintenance culture, the current state of KLIA, as reflected in its aerotrain service, comes to mind.
The aerotrain at KLIA has been out of service for a long time. From being a world-class airport, KLIA has had a free fall to the level it is now.
Who is accountable – the transport ministry or Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd? The aerotrain tracks are being redone and the trains themselves have “crumbled”. Shuttle buses are being used.
By all standards, this is far from world class – it is third world.
As a country which has so much to offer, let us not get mired in the quagmire of racial and cultural one-upmanship but focus instead on the 3Cs of corruption, cronyism and complacency.
Walter Sandosam is a former MACC oversight panel member and an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.