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Mahathir & Umno - What is Root Of Evil?
By Kim Quek
25/4/2001 5:28 am Wed
[Mahathir bercadang menyekat ahli Umno yang kaya dari
memegang jawatan penting atau mereka yang berjawatan itu
diberi kontrak kerajaan. Ini diharap dapat membersihkan imej
Umno. Cadangan ini bermakna MEMANG UJUD gejala sedemikian
tetapi dibiarkan sahaja kerana tentunya ada apa-apa.
Cadangan ini tidak akan mampu membersihkan Umno kerana
masalah korupsi bukannya di pucuk tetapi di akarnya.
Jika sistem itu diubah barulah akan segar tubuh yang kotor
dan berpenyakit itu seperti yang dilakukan di Hongkong atau
Singapura di mana korupsi diperangi sehebat-hebatnya tanpa
mengira batas ataupun sempadan - bukannya dengan menangis
memujuk macam anak kecil-kecilan kerana itu hanya membuat
si penyangak semua tersenyum kegirangan.
Malangnya Mahathir tidak faham walaupun beliau seorang
doktor yang belajar perihal penyakit dan kuman. Biasanya
doktor sebegini adalah pesakit yang sudah tiada harapan....
The Prime Minister and President of UMNO Mahathir Mohamad seems poised to
take the devil head on in his bid to rid UMNO of its scourge - money
politics and rampant corruption.
In a speech opening UMNO delegates meeting in his own home division of
Kubang Pasu in Kedah, Mahathir made the stunning proposal that very rich
members would be barred from contesting party posts and branch and division
chiefs would no longer be given government contracts.
To buttress his proposal, Mahathir revealed that from the feedback he
received from a wide spectrum of society in his recent nationwide tour,
there was a consensus that the entire UMNO hierarchy was corrupted and
self-seeking, and had forsaken their duty to race, religion and country. In
short, UMNO had lost the support of the people.
By adopting the above measures to cleanse UMNO of its corrupt image,
Mahathir expressed confidence that UMNO could again attract people to join
the party and regain people's support, without which, Mahathir did not
think UMNO could win in the next General Election.
Though the people of this Country have known for quite sometime that UMNO
has been drowning in a sea of corruption, Mahathir's public cognizance of
this fact nevertheless carries great historical significance.
For the first time, a Prime Minister of this Country admits tacitly that
there has been wide spread favouritism in the award of government contracts
to UMNO leaders; and this conduct is in breach of our corruption laws.
Though Mahathir has not expressly said so, the inference of impropriority is
inescapable. If the award of all these government contracts to UMNO leaders
is above board, why should these activities have sullied UMNO's image, and
why should UMNO have thought it necessary to curtail this practice in order
to save the Party from disrepute? And wouldn't the deprivation of
government contracts to such UMNO leaders be deemed violation of their
constitutional rights, if in fact they have all along been winning
government contracts through fair and transparent tenders? And isníŽt
Mahathir's proposal (to stop giving contracts to party leaders) tantamount
to saying that it is the UMNO leadership, and not the civil service, that
decides on the award of government contracts, confirming undue political
interference in administrative procedure, which constitute corrupt practices
under our laws?
The admission of these widespread corrupt practices brings into focus
another important failure of our Government - our Anti-Corruption Agency is
a total flop, as it has never brought a single case of such corrupt practice
Another negative inference we can draw from Mahathir's statements is that
his thinking is devoid of moral principles. Note that Mahathir's
motivation to stop the corrupt practice is not because he thought such a
practice is wrong, but because he considers it a good strategic move to
attract new talents and to win the next election. Whereas a good prime
minister would have ordered a stop to this corrupt practice in the first
instant when it is discovered, simply because such a practice is morally
wrong, and legally in breach of our laws.
The next big question is: will Mahathir succeed in exorcizing UMNO of
corruption, assuming his proposal is fully implemented?
The answer is an emphatic no! Simply because Dr. Mahathir's medicine
treats only the symptoms but not the cause. For a start, what is there to
stop the UMNO leadership from continuing granting illegal government favours
to its agents, nominees and favourite sons, as long as their names do not
appear on the list of party branch and division leaders? And what is there
to prevent UMNO leaders and government employees from taking bribes from
the general public, whose names surely are not in UMNO's exclusion list?
It is obvious that the root of the evil is in the system, not in the people
receiving contracts. Unless a system of clean and transparent tenders is
institutionalized to replace the present cesspool of corruption and
favouritism in the award of government contracts and privatization
projects, rampant corruption and cronyism will continue to be the order of
To take our deliberation a step further, even if a healthy system of tenders
is in place, will corruption be successfully tackled then? The answer is no
again. This time it is due to the lack of an independent and effective
machine to fight corruption. Our Anti-Corruption Agency, which is
answerable only to the Prime Minister, is generally seen more as a showpiece
to catch small fries and a feared tool to torment political adversary and to
prevent potential political rebellions among the rank and file of the ruling
hierarchy from taking place, rather than a respected institution to combat
corruption. Its numerous and endless failure to act against high profile
scandals of irrefutable corruption and abuse of power has so disgusted and
numbed the general public that not even the least ignorant of observers
could have any illusion of its efficacy.
It has been shown that a truly independent and efficient anti-corruption
body is the answer to the corruption plague. An eminent example is Hong
Kong. Through the establishment of an independent corruption fighting
agency answerable not to the Hong Kong Governor but to the ministry in U.K.
in the seventies, Hong Kong has succeed in transforming itself from one of
the most corrupted society into the top rank of the cleanest governments in
the world. Hong Kong's corruption free administration has been recognized
as one of the most important factors that made its miraculous economic
growth possible. The same can be said of another economic miracle, this
time at our doorstep: Singapore. No body would challenge the statement that
Singapore could not have achieved the miraculous transformation from an
economically desolate island state to one of the world's richest and most
admired country in such a short period, without at the same time keeping the
island state squeaky clean from the taint of corruption. Just for the sake
of provoking of our mind, if Singapore has been as corrupted as Malaysia, do
you think Singapore could have achieved half as much as it has achieved?
In Malaysia, we too have a good formula to raise ourselves from the mire of
corruption. And that is to remake our ACA into a genuinely independent body
answerable not to the Prime Minister but to Parliament, appointed not by the
Executive but by a commission free of political domination, and empowered to
prosecute the highest in the land without undue political interference.
The real issue facing Mahathir and UMNO is: Does UMNO have the political
will to turn a new leaf from its corrupted past? Or is UMNO so ingrained
with corruption that such a thought is mere wishful thinking?
Or, to bring us nearer to home truth, is Mahathir's latest proposal just