The situation today
Malaysia’s corruption situation is alarming, but no one seem to be bothered enough to actually do something about it.
How is this even happening you ask? The answer is simpler than you think.
Ministers seem to be too busy not doing a bloody thing about the social and economic situation while our uncontestably corrupt Prime Minister Mahathir, who stole and embezzled enough money to provide a wealthy living for his sons, brothers and extended family spanning over several generations, is leading the anti-corruption charge. The irony is grandiose.
Meanwhile, paying bribes to get things done seem to be unavoidably part of our everyday lives. Even accessing the most basic services such as schools and hospitals requires a little palm-greasing.
What the Malaysian people think
In 2014, Transparency International conducted a survey in Malaysia. The results were appalling. “Political parties were perceived to be the most corrupt by 45% of the respondents. The police still scored a close second, followed by public officials/civil servants, parliament/legislature, business/private sector and the judiciary.”
Three years later, Transparency International conducted new surveys to showcase the governmental corruption in Malaysia. 60% of Malaysians interrogated felt that corruption had only gotten worse in the past few years and that the government was doing very poorly in fighting corruption.
23% of the Malaysians surveyed even admitted to having paid bribes to access basic public services such as public hospital, schools, administration offices etc…
Bribery and corruption are so deeply rooted in the Malaysian way of life that we’ve just learnt to live with it.
In 2018, the general elections were determined by Mahathir’s promises to handle the rising corruption in Malaysia.
Mahathir returned to politics with promises to reform and modernize Malaysia.
A year later, the approval rating for Mahathir’s coalition, Pakatan Harapan, has fallen from 79% to 39% in just ten months, mostly due to lack of improvements and reforms in the areas of economic management, governance and anti-corruption efforts.
Corruption in the Judiciary system
If you think that corruption is a matter to be handled by the Judiciary system, think twice.
The entire judiciary system itself is controlled by no other than the Prime Minister who uses and abuses it to promote his own agenda.
PM Mahathir has final say in all judges and Attorney General nominations and promotions. With such a loyal entourage controlling the Judiciary system, Mahathir is puppeteering court decisions and making sure he controls any verdict that could affect him or his interests.
The inexistent system of checks and balances that should have prevented such corruption only allows for the judiciary to be a mere extension of the Executive.
Anti-corruption measures or simple smokescreens
To appease the public, Mahathir announced that in agreement with the Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption (JKKMAR), corruption-focused courts would be created to handle the ever-increasing number of corruption cases.
“One solemn declaration we make here is to uphold the Rule of Law and our zero tolerance to any form of corruption and judicial interference whether internal or external, political or otherwise, in the execution of our judicial duties” said Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum in a speech he gave in January.
If this declaration aimed at appeasing the Malaysian public opinion, Malaysians are no fools. We see this reform of the judiciary system for what it really is, a diversion that will only allow for Mahathir to continue pulling the strings.
Mahathir promised change and a better life for the people but only reinforced the establishment of a system that aims at nothing but pushing his own agendas. And while the rich are getting richer, a great part of the population seems reigned to accept their fate.
I am not. And neither should you be.
For more about Malaysia’s corruption, also see these amazing blogs:
Malaysian must know the truth is a personal blog by activist and law graduate Mohd Kamal Bin Abdullah.
Citizen Rights is a blog by a Malaysian english teacher writing about politics, corruption and civil rights in Malaysia.
Rocky’s Bru is a blog by journalist, activist and President of the National Press Club Malaysia where he provides free counsel to bloggers.
Malaysian Flip Flop Blog by a Malaysian homemaker who suffered from corruption and the flip flop laws in Malaysia.