Only clean and selfless politicians
could be regarded as patriotic
by Ronnie Liu
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday):
In the recent DAP Merdeka Month
Celebrations, DAP leaders have tried to define patriotism in simple terms
and practices, such as love for the environment, the family, the elders, the
teachers, the neighbours and also helping the poor and down-trodden and
unfortunate people. We also said that only politicians who are not corrupted
and selfless could be regarded as patriotic.
The outgoing PM Dato Seri Dr
Mahathir Mohamad has written a beautiful article on corruption in a book
entitled "The Challenge" published way back in 1986 by Pelanduk
The biggest irony is that after
22 years of his leadership, Malaysia has turned into a society of rampant
and widespread corruption as described by him in his book. In fact, to
borrow the words he used in his article, corruption has become " a way of
life" in Malaysia under his reign.
But the analogies and
arguments he used in the article were so apt and powerful that they were
still very much relevant and unmistakably true even read in in today's
context and perspective.
He described vividly how
"tipping" can turned into a form of corruption, and eventually brings losses
to the businesses and in the end the customers were penalised through rising
rates of "tipping".
He said that " for the
government in a country, corruption has definitely worse consequences and
can lead to the downfall of the government and a state of chaos."
He argued that " corruption
occurs everywhere. No country or nation is free from it. To erase it a
hundred percent is impossible. However, its effects can be lessened provided
it has not reached two critical stages."
" The first critical stage is
when corruption is still kept secret but links have been formed between
junior and senior officials. At this stage the junior accepts the bribe and
proceeds to share it with the senior, or vice versa. When this happens,
every official will protect every other. This may involve the highest
officials, including Ministers and other politicians, and even the judiciary
and the enforcers of the law."
" The effects of this stage are
obvious. A report from an aggrieved party will be futile. Worse, even when
the masses want to clean up the system, there is nobody to take action
because everybody is involved in corruption. Ministers and officials may be
replaced, but those who take their places will in no time be drawn into the
corruption. Even if they refused to be involved, they are paralysed, for
their staff will not obey their directives. To sack all government staff and
recruit new ones is impossible. If this is attempted, the result will be
chaos and worse evils."
" The second critical stage of
corruption is when it is no longer hidden and is accepted as common practice
by a society. Sometimes inadequate pay is cited as the reason why a bribe
must be given. If this were true, the high salaried, like senior officials
and Minister, should not take bribes. The fact that those with high pay, no
matter how high, only ask for bigger bribes. There are no limits to human
" When corruption is openly
practised and is in essence no longer illegitimate, its effects on a nation
are most pernicious. First, the government is weakened, for each time a
bribe is accepted, the government loses revenue or is deflected from a
proper course of action.
He also argued that " if the
government has insufficient funds, social services like education, health,
public utilities and others cannot be given. Not only will it be impossible
for the nation to progress; the gap between the poor and the rich will grow
wider. This is because the public services provided by the government would
normally help reduce the expenses shouldered by the poor."
" In a situation where the poor
grow poorer, their lot is further worsened by corruption, for being unable
to offer bribes, they cannot obtain the services of officials. This state of
affairs can only deteriorate with time. Justice will lose its meaning and
the majority of the people will sink into despair."
He also argued that " it is
important to identify these two critical stages of corruption, for once they
are reached, there is no hope of remedy. The general public and certain
groups in society will condemn corruption, will clamour and protest against
its practice, will threaten to act against the officials and the government
unless they stamp out corruption. But it will all be in vain. Even if the
officials and government are replaced, reform will only be momentary. "
He said " misuse of government
funds is definitely to be considered corruption, as is misuse of power."
Interestingly, towards the end
of his writing, he said " a chapter such as this is not easy to write, for
the reaction to it will be to try to show that the writer also practises
corruption. Given the wide interpretation of corruption, nobody can possibly
boast of being clean. For a politician to write such an article is
tantamount to ensuring failure in the future."
Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been
talking about corruption time and again, and he has even cried for UMNO on
several occasions on the topic of money politics in UMNO. But borrow his own
words, " declaration after declaration is made that corruption shall be
erased. Campaigns are held. But corruption goes on. "
May be he should take out "The
Challenge" from his bookshelf to refresh his mind on the topic of
corruption. It would be good for him and the nation if he could seriously do
something about corruption before he finally steps down for his office in
October this year.
* Ronnie Liu Tian
Khiew, DAP national publicity secretary and DAP Selangor chairman