Three lessons not learnt from the 1MDB scandal — Adam Taib

DECEMBER 12 — With so much publicity on 1MDB, most Malaysians are still missing the crucial lessons to be learnt from this scandal. Malaysian are confident that the new government will resolve this debacle and that we can start moving on towards a better future. However, the reality is 1MDB is not the first scandal committed by our previous government. Prior to this there’s the PKFZ and prior to that there’s the Bank Negara Forex scandal and the list goes on (a whole Wikipedia page of it). The fundamental reason for corruption needs to be identified. Without knowing the core factors contributing to governmental corruption, it’s just a matter of time before the next scandal hits.

The first reason or lesson why the BN government was able to keep stealing the nation’s money for so long is because we have a big government. Our government has grown so big to the point that it controls almost every aspect of our lives from education to healthcare, from media to sport, and with close to 500 GLCs (source from www.index.my) there are bound to be leakages. Two reasons for this: 1) Big governments need big budgets to operate. When there’s big money, there will always be “opportunities” for people who want some of that money. 2) Big governments have strong influences over policies, so there will always be people who want to lobby for certain policies that would benefit them. Thus to reverse this, Malaysia needs a smaller government that will require less funding. A smaller government also means there will be limited government policy influencing over different industries which will immediately lessen the opportunity for corruption. It’s time for our new PH government to let go of all those GLCs that are not profiting the country and reduce the number of ministries that the government has no business to be in in the first place i.e. sport, media and education.

The second lesson that Malaysians have not learnt is the lack of check and balance in our governmental power structure. The recent budget 2019 announced that the government is going to hire additional 100 MACC staff to police themselves from thieving. This won’t mean anything when the MACC’s Chief is still being appointed by the PM instead of a select committee of Dewan Rakyat. The judges of Federal Court are still being appointed based on the PM’s recommendation and so are all the top posts in regulatory agencies like Bank Negara, Security Commission and Ministry of Finance. Have Malaysians forgotten how Najib easily replaced the Bank Negara Governor, MACC’s chief and Attorney General in the mist of the 1MDB initial investigation? Until we have in place a system of check and balance for governmental power, 1MDB will not be the last scandal. 

The third lesson that Malaysians failed to grasp from the 1MDB scandal is our high economic dependency on the government. This has resulted in a growing number of GLCs being established since Merdeka. 1MDB, Khazanah, Petronas, Proton, MAS and Felda are just some of the many GLCs created under the banner to generate revenue for our country’s development. Not only did most of these GLCs perform poorly in helping the Rakyat but they are also a breeding ground for corruption and the mismanagement of public funds. When the losses are too big to the point of insolvency, tax payer funds are being used to bail them out. A recent report from The Star 9th July 2018, revealed that the top executives of GLCs are drawing fat salaries regardless of their company’s performance. This is not surprising since most top positions in GLCs are given as a form of reward to individuals for their political loyalty rather than their expertise. 

I believe it’s high time the Rakyat realise and acknowledge that the government can never solve our problems least of all our country’s economic problem. It’s time the government divest our behemoth GLC before another one of them turns into the likes of 1MDB.

Malaysia is a blessed country. Malaysians are blessed people. We all decided to start over on 9th May 2018. It’s time for Rakyat Malaysia to be truly Merdeka and start taking responsibility for our future. It’s time for Rakyat Malaysia to tell our government we don’t need your good intentions and your handouts. It’s time for Rakyat Malaysia to have a government that acts more like an umpire and keeper of the law and nothing else. Paraphrasing Frederick Douglas, “Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! ... And if Malaysian cannot stand on his/her own legs, let him/her fall. All we ask is, give us a chance to stand on our own legs! Let us alone!”

*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.