Najib vs Dr M - arguing over who is the bigger alleged kleptocrat - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Malaysiakini : "The periodic power struggles within Umno have often produced unexpected revelations of great interest to the people." – Kua Kia Soong
COMMENT| What a wonderful mess Pakatan Harapan is in now. The catfight between
former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak and former prime minister
(twice) Dr Mahathir Mohamad over who is more corrupt is indicative of
how Malaysians need to move on.
Like the Covid-19 pandemic, when
the mainstream Malay establishment is in convulsions, it ruthlessly
points out the deficiencies of the system. In this particular instance,
the systemic corruption that plagues the Malaysian political and
As Kua Kia Soong reminded
us in a press statement titled 'Malaysia's financial scandals - memory
jolt for forgetful politicians', one example (of systemic corruption) is
how politicians were benefiting from preferential share allocations
originally designed to help “ordinary Malays” under the NEP.
in November 1994, it was revealed that relatives of prominent Umno
politicians had been profiting from the preferential share-allocation
scheme originally designed to help ordinary Malays under the NEP. Among
these were Mirzan Mahathir, son of the prime minister; Marzuki Ibrahim,
brother of the deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim and Fazrin Azwar, son-in-law
of International trade and industry minister Rafidah Aziz, who happened
to chair the allocation committee. This information was only leaked to
the public by Rafidah Aziz because she wanted to show that it was not
just her son-in-law who had gained from the allocations. Is this
The last general election was deemed an existential
threat to Malaysia. After the election, Mahathir proudly proclaimed that
“corruption” had been eradicated and this was one of Harapan’s
achievements. He offered no evidence of such and what kept the momentum
going were the Najib corruption trials.
Umno political operatives
benefiting from a system of corruption are nothing new, of course. In
2013, Former Kota Raja Umno chief Amzah Umar denied any wrongdoing when it came to the land grab scandal in Shah Alam, offering this justification to what were essentially corrupt practices:
give a seven percent discount for bumiputera buyers and 12 percent for
Umno members if I am not mistaken,” and (the cherry on this moist
corrupt cake), “What scandal? It is all in the plan. You can check with
Majlis Bandar Shah Alam, the state government or the district officer,
everything is in order.”.
is going according to plan when you are assured that the system never
changes. Everything, that is, until a new regime comes to power, which
was unheard of during the long Umno watch. There were deviations when it
came to the mainstream political acceptance of corruption. PAS led by
the late Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat was one such anomaly.
(even if you disagreed with his ideological stance) was unambiguous when
it came to this issue. "In the 20 years under my administration, the
anti-corruption agencies have never been able to convict any of my
officers. We denounced Umno because of their corruption and it will not
be right if we come into power and end up being corrupt too. I tell my
officers, you are answerable to God – not to me or to anyone else – you
answer in the hereafter for your doings. The character is of priority
and the mindset must be changed to include the world and the hereafter,”
he once said.
Petty power struggles
really do not understand Mahathir or Harapan for that matter. How is
Harapan going to spin corruption the second time around? The 1MDB
scandal was a one-shot thing. It worked on a certain section of the
voting polity that desperately wanted change. Since then, with the
demographic that is most susceptible to racial and religious politics,
Najib has "reformed" his image while Harapan was busy engaging in petty
power struggles. Even then, everyone in Harapan, certainly the
political operatives who for years had portrayed the old maverick as an
existential threat, forgot about all the scandals which the old maverick
brought with him and was smugly confident that nobody would allude to.
are told to focus on the bigger issue, but the reality is that the
bigger issue has always been the institutional corruption that has led
to squandered opportunities and a political elite who use government
positions to enrich themselves and their cronies.
Now, of course,
this fight between Najib and Mahathir about who “stole” more is just a
reminder to an already jaded Harapan base that all this talk of change
is meaningless. How exactly are DAP and Amanah going to act as
surrogates for the old maverick when history and fact are not on their
Or are they going to remain quiet when it comes to this
issue? Or justify support for Mahathir because PN is the new existential
threat to Malaysia? As it is, Mahathir threw his allies under the bus
with his ultimatum
about not working with PKR. Now, there are going to be scandals galore,
with both sides furnishing details of the criminality of the other.
for the Umno/PAS base, corruption is not a major concern. There are
many reasons for that, of course, but until Harapan managed to weaken
the Umno hegemon, for decades, the majority of Malaysians happily voted
in successive corrupt governments while folks like Kua and other
activists were vilified as “idealists” who did nothing for the country.
we are talking about here is systemic, institutional corruption,
sanctioned by political operatives who have been a mainstay of the
establishment for years. Keep in mind what Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer said
when Harapan came into power: "The talk among the judicial members was
that they were appointed because of the influence of an ex-minister whom
they served earlier. I will reserve my right to say further to a royal
commission of inquiry (RCI). They all knew it was business as usual and
all the fear of tribunalisation had disappeared overnight and now they
are looking forward to top positions upon vacancy. To me, I see it as
one movement from a kleptocracy regime to another and nothing more."
is why when people, especially young people, say they want to see new
faces, it merely means that for some, they are sick and tired of old
corrupt men arguing over who stole more from the rakyat.