Articles, Opinions & Views: Letter of support and the Bazaar-gate - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't

Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Letter of support and the Bazaar-gate - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Malaysiakini : “The worst disease in the world today is corruption. And there is a cure: transparency.” – Bono, U2
COMMENT | A number of readers have written in asking me what I thought about the whole ‘bazaar-gate’ and this controversy over letters of support. Something sticks in my craw when it comes to this issue. Besides demonstrating the “petty” corruption that is endemic to the system, it also illustrates the kind of corruption that slowly builds into something more over the long term.
When DAP’s Tan Kok Wai says something extremely dumb like this - “So are you (DBKL Licensing and Petty Traders Developmental Department director Anwar Mohd Zain) actually saying that the MP is more powerful than the mayor? – when attempting to defend the actions of Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun in issuing a letter of support, two points need to be made:
1. If the letter of support or any letter of support from an MP is not influential in any way, then why write such letters?
2. Considering the culture of bureaucratic corruption and connivance with the state, these letters, especially during the Umno regime, obviously meant something. The fact that elements in the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) consider such letters as influential should tell us something about the way how politicians and bureaucrats engage with one another. Maybe if Pakatan Harapan had sent a memo that such letters should not be entertained, then perhaps, Tan could use this line of attack. Tan in defending his party member and laying the blame solely on DBKL is mendacious and the kind of political legerdemain that Harapan should not encourage.
In fact, what the DAP should be doing is conducting an independent investigation on Fong and make the results known to the rakyat. This, of course, should be in tandem with whatever investigations that the MACC does and whatever the state security apparatus is doing. As to the question of letters of support, this is problematic. Politicians engaging in some form of corruption often do so with these so-called letters of support. However, the reality is that politicians who genuinely want to help their constituents also use letters of support when it comes to dealing with the bureaucracy.
Are letters of support done in good faith a bad thing? This depends if you believe that there should be a strict separation between the bureaucracy and political operatives. Real life is messy and there are as many examples of politicians engaging with the bureaucracy through letters of support which have helped the lives of people. But more often than not, letters of support, specifically in the former regime, were used to facilitate corruption.
When it comes to Fong (photo), my main issue is, why didn’t he do his due diligence? Look, when it comes to these traders, the culture of DBKL and the way how small business people are routinely preyed upon by the system, there is ample evidence that something stinks. Claiming that traders would not be charged is not an acceptable answer when issuing these letters of support. If the traders should be legitimately charged, then it should not be the job of the politicians to allow them to circumvent this regulation.
Fong is described as a “long-term” MP so surely, he would understand the kind of corrupt practices that goes on in the bureaucracy which Harapan claims it wants to reform. Now I’m not saying that there was anything mala fide in what Fong did, but it just seems so bizarre that someone of Fong’s experience does not think it queer that something could go wrong when it comes to political operatives, traders and the way DBKL works.
Political operatives
I mean surely if these traders could not get licences from DBKL, the solution would be to discover why they could not get licenses - is there an unbalance of power between long-term traders and short-term traders and how this issue could be resolved. Honestly isn’t this what the common rakyat voted Harapan in for - to reform the system so there would not be a pecking order for people who just want to trade or make some extra money in these trying economic times, for example?
Surely there are better ways to raise funds for these fees without circumventing the law. Also, this whole idea of traffic congestion. If trading along these path causes traffic congestion, then the needs of the majority of road users unfortunately trump the economic interest of these traders. Again, a politician should not be in the business of facilitating traffic jams or circumventing regulations merely to help traders.
What would happen if any investigation discovered corruption in this issue? What would be the DAP’s and Bersatu’s stand be? Even if Fong acted in good faith, what would be the consequences if it was discovered that there was a conspiracy to screw the traders in a manner which is entirely consistent with the way how the former regime did things?
Furthermore, what is DBKL doing approving lots for political operatives as claimed by Bukit Bintang Bersatu Youth chief Mohd Noorhisyam Abdul Karim (photo). He “also said that even though DBKL had approved 80 lots for him, the actual space given was only enough for 53 lots.” Can DBKL approve lots for anyone or is it just political operatives, which would again make the claim by Tan about the lack of influence of letters of support nonsensical considering the operating procedures of DBKL.
But all of this gets even more complicated. In all these reports, traders make many allegations in the press but as yet no trader has been named as being fleeced by political operatives. In press reports, no trader – as yet – has actually lodged a report against any political operatives. This is understandable, of course, and one of the reasons why they should be a strict line separating political operatives from the bureaucracy even though it may sometimes come at the costs of hurting those who actually need the assistance of politicians when it involves the bureaucracy.
Bone fide letters of support issued by the former BN regime and the current Harapan regime have helped individuals. Make no mistake about that. But helping individuals, or maybe even groups of people, does not reform the system. Instead it reinforces a certain mentality that in order for the bureaucracy to work, what is needed is the right political connections. This is never a good thing.
I may sound simplistic but really isn’t the goal of reforming the civil service mean that politicians should not be needed in the interaction between the rakyat and the bureaucracy? Should not politicians come into play to expose the inadequacy of the civil service and the need for reforms?
Are not letters of support (even in good faith) merely a symptom of a dysfunctional bureaucracy?
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 9:17 AM  
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