NAJIB TO GREESE THE VIENNA-BASED INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION ACADEMY TO TURN MALAYSIA INTO ANOTHER GREECE

“ Najib entry into politics crusade” against corruption has created even more sensation In many ways he is doing more of what politicians normally do – silly, populist, sensationalist things. And in other ways, he is charting a totally new path – working like media companies do – believing in “scoops”

In fact all elements of society are affected in some way as corruption undermines political development, democracy, economic development, the environment, people’s health, education and so forth.There is a high degree of anger at the slowing economy. That is starting to hurt. Inflation is running high, jobs are not being created and savings are being squeezed. Suddenly, the confidence of the people is being replaced by diffidence. Suddenly, rather than looking at a bright future, people are starting to worry about a bleak one. In a situation like this, it is obvious for people to attack the authorities.Najib is merely seizing that opportunity. His credibility so far has been lower than that of the main opposition party’s. The question is: is this reason enough for Najib to behave the way he is? Is this the political alternative one is seeking?Could it possibly be true? Has Najib begun to believe what some admirers have started to suggest with incremental passion, that he is Malaysia’s best-ever Prime Minister? The answer must be no. He is clearly not self-delusional.

As in the old sayings, “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it”. Being too long in power breeds complacency and corruption. The powerful, wealthy leaders who have been serving long in government could inevitably become corrupt.

Many can be seen living a debauched lifestyle when the poor are getting poorer.

Some have their wealth and interests conveniently stashed overseas and become the “untouchables” in their own country because of their strong political connection.

Corruption is going to cause a decline in morals, affecting both the rich upper classes and the poor, and this is becoming a continuous threat to the country.  Corruption is going to cost of defending the country spiral out of control, the economy falling, taxation heavy and inflation high.  These will be the symptoms for early bankruptcy for the country.

The majority of the rich are not sharing their “inconceivable” wealth and prosperity with the have-nots in the country and this is widening the gap between the poor and the rich, especially in states like Sarawak and Sabah.

Not perceived as “clean”

Corruption started to rear its ugly head right during Mahathir’s days as prime minister. His infamous description that corruption is “a lubricant that can get things done faster” must have been the wrong dose he prescribed that has made corruption opportunely “acceptable”.

Abdullah Badawi who took over as prime minister from Mahathir in 2003 could not do much in battling corruption just because this immoral habit had already become ingrained in the Malaysian culture. And today Najib is too weak to steer the country out of this baggage.

The present government and its leaders are not perceived as “clean” either when it comes to corruption. It has become an unceasing baggage that has affected almost all those in power.

Thus corruption apparently has become a way of life in the Malaysian society. People are dealing with societies where corruption filters into their everyday life. This culture no doubt is corroding the nation.

A change of government

A change of government may not be the ultimate solution to some voters but many feel that this is the only viable way to stop the menace of corruption from continuing unabated. It’s never too late though to have a new government in the two-party system the country now has.

Corruption is both a major cause and a result of poverty in most countries with unscrupulous leadership. It occurs at all levels of society, from local and national governments, civil society, judiciary functions, businesses, military and other services and so forth.

It is not only in the government that corruption is found. It’s now pervading the society in most countries with poor and ineffective leadership.

Negotiated tenders, for instance, can create conditions whereby corruption can flourish and aggravate the conditions of people. It habitually involves diversion of a percentage of funds from critical projects into the pockets of political parties, politicians, senior government officials or their families.

But the media and haughty politicians would irresponsibly stop effective participation and representation of people in society such as the NGOs from voicing out their displeasures and this has further helped encourage corruption and the collapse of nations.

Corrupt government

Those who are leaving Barisan among them are those who do not believe in the credibility, integrity, professionalism and independence of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

It was mentioned in a recently released report by Swiss-based NGO Bruno Manser Fund, that the Taib (Sarawak Chief Minister) family’s total assets to be worth US$21 billion (RM64 billion), with a personal wealth of US$15 billion (RM46 billion), making him Malaysia’s richest man.

The people only want to know the truth but as reported, Najib was trying to be evasive about the whole thing.

The people also want to know the truth about other prominent leaders and those in high positions in the administration who are perceived to be highly corrupted.  But unfortunately, the present incumbent government lacks the political will to face the bull by its horns.

Corruption will destroy the nation

It looks like corruption is not getting much better and, indeed, is intensifying – affecting virtually every aspect of life among peoples in the country.

They perceive that corruption is taking on a host of different forms. It involves the police and judicial systems, including disputed enforcement of business contracts and other commercial litigation.

A leader must show his abhorrence of corruption by example not just by telling others to stay away from this evil when the government he leads is amassed with alleged corruption.

A corrupt nation usually has an extremely weak institutional setting and this is due to political parties and their leaders holding on to power for too long causing smugness to set in.

The droves of people leaving Barisan to be with PAS and the Opposition today  is clear sign that they want to see a change in government to curb corruption – the thorn in the flesh – that is corroding the nation.

Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

 “ Najib pull wool over the people’s eyes”.

Non-Muslims have no qualms whatsoever about supporting PAS. The simple reason is that they are against corruption. They too have the view that a God-fearing government can help rein in corruption better in the country.

The fervour for religion is becoming more important in the psyche of many Malaysians today. DAP and PKR are not religion-based parties but they are allies to PAS and share the common views that there must be social justice for the people and that corruption is immoral and can destabilise the nation.

When leaders are corrupt the people tend to resort to more religious awareness.  The voters are not oblivious to the fact that corruption affects the poorest the most.

George Washington said in 1789, “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favours”.

Those “fearing God” feel that corruption is a plague to the people. Uninhibited corruption which has not abated but increased – in their opinion – is fermenting their hatred for the government.  This is one of the many reasons why many former government servants, artistes, academicians, students are today giving their support to PAS and the Opposition.

To the critics, corruption must first be mopped up at home. They feel that some local NGOs deserve the money more when they are making serious efforts to rein in corruption in the country.

There is certainly something wrong when a leader blames everyone else and yet does not observe the corrupt behaviour of his own team.

The people’s perception is that there is a mass-scale corruption at all levels in the country. The people cannot anymore be oblivious to the effects of corruption, as its impacts have become obvious on their everyday life.

Corrupt to the core

People are leaving the Barisan coalition and their reason, among others, is that they just cannot tolerate the level of corruption in the government anymore. Their view seems to be that the government of today is corrupt to the core.

This opinion has hurt Barisan most in the past 30 years – right from the day Mahathir Muhamad took over as prime minister.

Corruption is today seen as corroding the country.  The people see the abuse of power by leaders more for their personal advantage. This is disconcerting the minds of voters who depend on the integrity of people in a position of authority.

Looking at the Corruption Perceptions Index of 2011, Malaysia ranked number 60 out of 183 countries with a score of 4.3/10 (hovering at 4 to 5 in the past 10 years).

The country’s one time partner – Singapore that left Malaysia in 1965 – was ranked number 5 with a score of 9.2/10 (hovering at 9 to 9.5 in the past 10 years).

the world of adults, the way the Government is managing the affair is naive. There can be only two alternatives:

‘Loose-lips’ Mukhriz gave the game away?

Malaysians will go to the national polls, latest next June, to cast their ballots to elect their new state and federal governments.

Clearly, the cash-strapped BN government is forced to give out such unprecedented cash handouts because of their fear of losing the rakyat (people)’s mandate to remain in power after the 13th General Election.

The fear stems from BN’s unprecedented electoral losses in the March 2008 political tsunami – even losing its traditional two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time in Malaysia’s electoral history.

Haji Sobey refers to BN’s two BR1M cash handouts amounting to RM1,000 to each qualified Malaysian. You divide this amount by 55 years that BN has ruled Malaysia and you get RM18.18 a year.

You divide RM18.18 by 12 months, you get RM1.51 a month.

You divide RM1.51 by 30 days, you get 5 sen a day!

Mathematically, this is correct, and so it makes sense.

Haji Sobey concludes: “Telah ditipu, adakah akan terus ditipu? Pilihan ditangan anda …” (You have already been taken for a ride, do you want to be continue to be taken for a ride? The choice is in your hand …”

Corrupt & Bankrupt

Haji Sobey is a Malay who is able to see through the devious Umno-led BN and its cronies who have swept up hundreds of billions of ringgit in contracts, emptying the national coffer with hundreds of financial scandals.

Now, do you see why we are heading towards the direction of Greece as a corrupt and bankrupt country? Can we afford another 55 years with the Umno-led BN?

I, for one, cannot stomach BN-Umno’s insult that my votes or ballots are worth only 5 (five) sen (cents) in the next general election.

In trying to paint a rosy picture of the country’s economy, Mukhriz claimed that the nation was on the right growth track due to “wise” financial management, without reliance on heavy overseas borrowings.

“The government has about RM800 billion in borrowings. Of this figure, foreign borrowing is only 17%. The bulk is from local financial institutions,” TheEdge reported Mukhriz as saying.

Now, is our federal debt as revealed by Budget 2013 at RM502.4 billion or is it RM800 billion?

Two visuals found in the facebook highlighting Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s wife’s excessive spendings.

Flawed logic

Mukhriz’s argument is also flawed when he tries to justify good financial management by differentiating between domestic and foreign borrowings.

A debt is a debt. It is still what you owe, nothing more, nothing less.

And for the first time in 55 years, and within a year, the BN government announced various cash handouts to qualified individuals, in the guise of helping the lower income group of Malaysians.

Those handouts are clearly an attempt to pacify and secure the support of the fast growing restless Malaysians who are struggling to make ends meet daily.

how much more insults will the majority of Malaysians absorb before they wake up politically to find that they have been had big time by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

After 55 years of BN’s plundering of the nation’s wealth, 26 million Malaysians are saddled with a RM502.4 billion federal debt or 53.7% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year.

That is only 1.3% short of the 55% legislated debt ceiling.

Also, there are RM118 billion in off Budget liabilities or sovereign guarantees for private corporations like the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) and government-linked company loans ending 2011.

However, many economists believe that we have already breached the legislated debt ceiling as International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Mukhriz Mahathir appeared to have “accidentally” leaked out some alarming information while speaking to new students in Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) on Sept 6, 2012.

 Either Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan are wrong or they are right.  The argument that Robert Vadra is a private citizen, and is being targeted by Kejriwal (and others) just because he happens to be the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi is neither here nor there.   After all, not every private citizen is exempted from being frisked at the airport security.  This particular private citizen has been given that exemption (when accompanied by Priyanka Gandhi) only because he is the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi.  So the Government cannot now take refuge behind the fact Robert Vadra is just another private citizen.  Nor do senior-most Cabinet Ministers and Official spokespersons of Congress come on media, all guns firing, to defend every private citizen.  The very reason for which they do so is also the reason why Vadra is targeted by India Against Corruption (IAC), the Opposition et al.  Nor can the government simply dismiss the allegation as baseless and defamatory, and expect Prashant Bhushan or Kejriwal to file a suit in the court to substantiate their seriousness about the accusation as Ms. Jayanti Natarajan was doing on the national television.  One can simply reverse the logic and say that if Prashant Bhushan or Kejriwal’s accusation is baseless and defamatory, nothing stops Robert Vadra from filing a defamation suit against them in the court. That would be the only credible way to call their bluff.
Equally naive are the counter accusations by cabinet ministers like Salman Khurshid or Natrajan against the likes of Prashan Bhushan about his plot of land in Gurgaon. The Ministers represent the Government, and if the Government believes Prashant Bhushan procured some land illegally, it is entirely open to the Government which controls the CBI, ED and the rest of the investigating machinery, to launch a full-fledged investigation and nail him. A Kejriwal or a Prashant Bhushan as political aspirants may have some justification in airing their allegations in the media because they do not have the wherewithal to prove their accusations conclusively, but the Government, with all the machinery behind it, has the authority as well as the obligation to take even its suspicions, leave alone allegations, to their logical conclusion.
Such ‘defense’, spirited and loyal as it may be from the view point of the ruling Ministers, is hardly likely to sound credible to the ears of the common man.
Let us face it. Even an idiot on the street knows that what is legal can be immoral and vice versa.  Interest-free loans  extended by companies to enable a politician or a bureaucrat (through their relatives) to acquire under-priced assets in return for a favour  is an age old trick. The trick understandably provides a legal format to questionable deals.  In this case DLF has denied any ‘interest-free loan’ to Vadra, choosing to call it ‘business advance’, except that business advances are usually given by buyers and not sellers (as DLF is alleged to have sold under-priced properties to Vadra), whether in real estate or any other business. These are the reasons why, prima facie, the public is bound to believe such allegations, unless the defense against the accusations is more crisp and credible.
That is why, if Kejriwal is wrong, and if the Government is confident that nothing illegal or even immoral has happened, and most importantly if the Government is keen to make a strong case before the common man, with the elections not too far away, the best course of action would be to allow a transparent probe.  And yes, if the allegations turn out to be baseless, surely necessary action can be initiated against those making the false charges?
True, Congress has already rubbished the demand for any probe, claiming the charges against Vadra to be baseless and alleging that is also the reason why IAC is not lodging a case against Vadra in the court of law. But Congress is overlooking the fact, as already stated earlier,  that the same logic can be turned around to apply to them. If the allegations are baseless and defamatory, and why don’t they file a defamation suit against those making the allegations? If the Congress wishes to be perceived as not guilty, perhaps a probe is in order.
After all, whether or not an interest free loan or a business advance has been granted or made by DLF for purchase of real-estate by Vadra from DLF can be easily established. As for whether or not these assets were sold rather cheaply to Vadra can also be reasonably established from the land records of other deals done by DLF around the same time.  Similarly, whether and at what price the shares of Hilton Garden were sold to Vadra and a realistic price of such shares can also be established in a reasonable manner.  After all in the US, they managed to establish motives even for insider-trading cases where no actual profits were made by Rajat Gupta, for instance, didn’t they?  Such an exercise will only help the Government’s case, instead of having its Ministers engage in verbal duals on the media.
Even the most illiterate Indian voter is no fool, as he/she has shown time and again in the past. With the national elections barely a year and a half away, the Government cannot afford to obfuscate the issue without paying a heavy price at the next round of elections. Not holding a probe by dismissing it as politically motivated, would only strengthen the hands of the detractors of Congress. Of course the accusations are politically motivated and with good reason, because Kejriwal is indeed taking a political stance.

 

Sometimes the kickbacks are significant. ”Five thousand euro were requested to reduce penalties following an audit of company books for the years 1998-2003.” The money was paid.

It can be a game of chicken, who will blink first. As was the case of one doctor who “was careful not to ask for anything, but she sat there in front of me without saying anything. Well …” The doctor ended up happily accepting 800 euros she hadn’t asked for.

“Papandreou essentially tried to do a good thing in empowering a disadvantaged population, but he abolished meritocracy and awarded positions of responsibility to socialist goons. 

– Kostas Bakouris, Transparency International

 

The site is a cast list of corrupt characters: the tax collector who blackmails a business, the surgeon who turns public healthcare into private practice, an official who wants a grigorosimo, or speed-up fee to avoid delays.

Corruption is a big part of Greece’s unrecorded and untaxed economy, estimated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development at roughly $90bn this year, dwarfing the deficit of $17bn.

Getting worse

The messages are as curt as telegrams: “Pregnant woman comes to Athens for a Caesarean section. The doctor requests 500 euro [US$640] to perform the operation. The husband has only 300 [$390]. The doctor re-joins with threats.”

In this case, the Greek doctor relented and performed the discounted C-section.

The entry is from Greece’s first website dedicated to sharing stories of corruption in the public sector. The response has been impressive – after just two weeks online, the site has logged 40,000 visitors and highlighted more than $85,000 in bribes requested and paid.

“What we’ve noticed is how incredible the bribes can be,” says Panos Louridas, one of several volunteers who built the website. ”The funniest thing I saw was a hospital patient who had bribed staff to allow his wife to sleep in an empty second bed in his room. It was reported by a patient in an adjacent room.”

Corruption is also a major hidden expense of doing business in Greece, helping to keep out foreign investment.

According to Transparency International’s latest “Corruption Perceptions Index”, which tracks public and private corruption, Greece tied for 80th place with El Salvador, Colombia, Morocco and Peru. It lags behind every European Union member, save Bulgaria, including many Eastern bloc nations that have had a mere two decades’ experience with free-market economics and democracy.

Why does Greece fail so badly?

Kostas Bakouris, the head of Transparency International’s Greek office, blames former socialist prime minister Andreas Papandreou, who came to power in 1981 on the back of what many saw as a social revolution.

“Papandreou essentially tried to do a good thing in empowering a disadvantaged population, but he abolished meritocracy and awarded positions of responsibility to socialist goons,” says Bakouris.

“Society was flattened, principle disappeared, people became selfish and stopped feeling any social solidarity,” he adds. “The prime minister allowed people to take bribes, and the result was that there was inculcated a tendency to sidestep the law.”

Greece’s ranking on the CPI index has fallen almost every year since 2001, when it was 42nd out of 91 countries surveyed. The problem has became dramatically worse during the economic crisis. Over the past three years, its nominal score fell from 4.7 to 3.4. New Zealand currently comes first with a squeaky clean 9.5.

The survey suggests that public Greek functionaries have aggressively tried to make up for slashed salaries and benefits, the result of austerity measures.

But there are a few non-rotten apples in the barrel. Transparency International found 22.5 per cent of people who were asked for a bribe refused. “It may be partly due to lack of money, but I would like to believe that it is due to a change in attitude as well,” says Bakouris.

Healthcare venality

The government’s medical bills are among its biggest liabilities. The troika of creditors – the International Monetary Fund, European Commission, and European Central Bank – have demanded about $2.5bn in cuts to pharmaceutical and hospital expenditures this year alone.

Greece did set up an electronic medical prescription platform as a way of checking redundancy. But fraud has persisted, with prescriptions remaining at above five million a month, suggesting one in two Greeks needs medicine at any given time.

 Counting the Cost – Greece’s debt drama

“An electronic platform means nothing on its own,” says an Athens-based surgeon who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The key is to get doctors to prescribe according to scientific guidelines, and get the system to flag excessive prescriptions.”

Hospital supplies are another area where the government wants to clamp down on waste. In the last two years, it has reduced payouts for various kinds of surgical materials by as much as 90 per cent.

“Besides customs duties on surgical materials, the importer usually claims a 55-65 per cent profit,” the surgeon tells Al Jazeera.

“He sells to a distributor who introduces his own mark-up of 40-60 per cent, before bribing the hospital director and individual surgeons another 20-30 per cent each. Each mark-up compounds the previous one, so materials end up vastly inflated. That’s what the government has stopped paying for in its new price lists.”

Teachers on the take

Corruption does not always take the form of a bribe. A survey conducted for the European Commission last year found that before the crisis, Greeks privately paid a staggering $1.2bn a year for after-school tutors.

Supplemental tutoring, known as frontisteria, is considered mandatory by most parents, not to give their children an advantage, but to bolster the education provided by a semi-competent public school system. Many public school teachers break the law to moonlight as tutors.

The conservative-led government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has vowed to make the state accountable and transparent. Last month the financial crimes squad sent the case files of 35 politicians under investigation for money-laundering and illegal enrichment to the Supreme Court Prosecutor. That prompted the parliament speaker, who was on the list, to suspend himself for a few days.

Not everyone is convinced that Samaras and his team will clean up Greece.

“It is well known that the vast majority of tax collectors is deeply corrupt,” says a former minister who spoke on condition of anonymity. “This shop cannot be easily fixed. You have to break lots of eggs.”

 Either Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan are wrong or they are right.  The argument that Robert Vadra is a private citizen, and is being targeted by Kejriwal (and others) just because he happens to be the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi is neither here nor there.   After all, not every private citizen is exempted from being frisked at the airport security.  This particular private citizen has been given that exemption (when accompanied by Priyanka Gandhi) only because he is the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi.  So the Government cannot now take refuge behind the fact Robert Vadra is just another private citizen.  Nor do senior-most Cabinet Ministers and Official spokespersons of Congress come on media, all guns firing, to defend every private citizen.  The very reason for which they do so is also the reason why Vadra is targeted by India Against Corruption (IAC), the Opposition et al.  Nor can the government simply dismiss the allegation as baseless and defamatory, and expect Prashant Bhushan or Kejriwal to file a suit in the court to substantiate their seriousness about the accusation as Ms. Jayanti Natarajan was doing on the national television.  One can simply reverse the logic and say that if Prashant Bhushan or Kejriwal’s accusation is baseless and defamatory, nothing stops Robert Vadra from filing a defamation suit against them in the court. That would be the only credible way to call their bluff.
Equally naive are the counter accusations by cabinet ministers like Salman Khurshid or Natrajan against the likes of Prashan Bhushan about his plot of land in Gurgaon. The Ministers represent the Government, and if the Government believes Prashant Bhushan procured some land illegally, it is entirely open to the Government which controls the CBI, ED and the rest of the investigating machinery, to launch a full-fledged investigation and nail him. A Kejriwal or a Prashant Bhushan as political aspirants may have some justification in airing their allegations in the media because they do not have the wherewithal to prove their accusations conclusively, but the Government, with all the machinery behind it, has the authority as well as the obligation to take even its suspicions, leave alone allegations, to their logical conclusion.
Such ‘defense’, spirited and loyal as it may be from the view point of the ruling Ministers, is hardly likely to sound credible to the ears of the common man.
Let us face it. Even an idiot on the street knows that what is legal can be immoral and vice versa.  Interest-free loans  extended by companies to enable a politician or a bureaucrat (through their relatives) to acquire under-priced assets in return for a favour  is an age old trick. The trick understandably provides a legal format to questionable deals.  In this case DLF has denied any ‘interest-free loan’ to Vadra, choosing to call it ‘business advance’, except that business advances are usually given by buyers and not sellers (as DLF is alleged to have sold under-priced properties to Vadra), whether in real estate or any other business. These are the reasons why, prima facie, the public is bound to believe such allegations, unless the defense against the accusations is more crisp and credible.
That is why, if Kejriwal is wrong, and if the Government is confident that nothing illegal or even immoral has happened, and most importantly if the Government is keen to make a strong case before the common man, with the elections not too far away, the best course of action would be to allow a transparent probe.  And yes, if the allegations turn out to be baseless, surely necessary action can be initiated against those making the false charges?
True, Congress has already rubbished the demand for any probe, claiming the charges against Vadra to be baseless and alleging that is also the reason why IAC is not lodging a case against Vadra in the court of law. But Congress is overlooking the fact, as already stated earlier,  that the same logic can be turned around to apply to them. If the allegations are baseless and defamatory, and why don’t they file a defamation suit against those making the allegations? If the Congress wishes to be perceived as not guilty, perhaps a probe is in order.
After all, whether or not an interest free loan or a business advance has been granted or made by DLF for purchase of real-estate by Vadra from DLF can be easily established. As for whether or not these assets were sold rather cheaply to Vadra can also be reasonably established from the land records of other deals done by DLF around the same time.  Similarly, whether and at what price the shares of Hilton Garden were sold to Vadra and a realistic price of such shares can also be established in a reasonable manner.  After all in the US, they managed to establish motives even for insider-trading cases where no actual profits were made by Rajat Gupta, for instance, didn’t they?  Such an exercise will only help the Government’s case, instead of having its Ministers engage in verbal duals on the media.
Even the most illiterate Indian voter is no fool, as he/she has shown time and again in the past. With the national elections barely a year and a half away, the Government cannot afford to obfuscate the issue without paying a heavy price at the next round of elections. Not holding a probe by dismissing it as politically motivated, would only strengthen the hands of the detractors of Congress. Of course the accusations are politically motivated and with good reason, because Kejriwal is indeed taking a political stance.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s