CAN law-abiding Malaysians affirmatively say that the Madani government of Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has finally bid farewell to the war against corruption?
Can we say that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigation against former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin and the sons of twice former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed is just an eye-wash to show the government is serious about whipping out corruption?
Corruption is not something of an aberration but very endemic to the system. Whipping out the scourge of corruption or reducing it to manageable level needs a concerted serious effort on the part of the government and its leadership.
If Deputy PM and UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi can be left off the hook of 47 charges of corruption and money laundering with a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNNA), then what hope is there for the future in the fight again corruption?
If former premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s sentence could be reduced by the Pardons Board, what hope is for the country and the people?
These two decisions are more than enough to suggest that some individuals who are linked to power and influence get preferential treatment while ordinary citizens even for the slightest infringement of the law are subjected to severe punishment.
Hoodwinking the public
In the case of the two individuals, crime indeed pays. Anwar became the PM of the country with promises of reforms and change for the better. With slightly more than a year in office, Anwar has shown his true colours.
Despite the rhetoric against corruption, he seems to condone the acts of corruption.
By saying that he was a not involved in the court decision to grant a DNNA for Zahid and the reduction of the sentence for Najib, he has sought to downplay his own direct involvement in the outcome of the cases.
Although Anwar might not be directly involved, surely the prosecution or the AG might have consulted him on the grant of the DNNA in favour of Zahid.
Anwar might not be in the Pardons Board but government officials including the AG are involved in the board. Above all else, the AG was his appointee.
Anwar should not hoodwink the public by his childish acts of wiggling out decisions pertaining to corruption cases. Anwar by virtue of being PM enjoys unprecedented power and influence.
I doubt decisions in the high-profile cases just mentioned would have been taken without his knowledge.
The Malaysian public was of the view that in comparison to some recent PMs, Anwar was more committed in getting rid of corruption than others before him.
The magic word “reform” that was promoted and popularised by Anwar and his team while he was in the political wilderness gave hope to Malaysians. However, after he became the PM, all the hopes of reforms have evaporated in thin air.
Damage done big time
Political expediency to survive has become the much sought after objective. Survival means getting the support of tainted politicians with reciprocal attempts to gloss over major corruption scandals.
In short, Anwar has the support of UMNO MPs in return for some reciprocal measures to keep the government intact. Whether the Madani government lasts for the full term or is not important anymore.
The damage has been done and how the government is going to undo the damage remains to be seen. As for Anwar, he should continue just as another mediocre PM. He should just stop taking about getting rid of corruption or bringing in reforms.
Essentially, he has closed the doors of the stables after the horses left. If the ordinary public knows about the true nature of the present government and the character of the leadership, then at least they know who to support in the coming general elections.
Let us not forget that the people do have a choice. At the same time, leaders of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) component parties who shouted about corruption against the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd) scandal have adopted a “cool” attitude.
One leader of a component party went to the extent of asking the public to respect the decision of the Pardons Board. What a shame for a political coalition whose name was synonymous with the fight against corruption.
Just imagine what power, positions and perks could do to the gung-ho champions of clean, accountable and transparent (CAT) government. – Feb 4, 2024
Former DAP stalwart and Penang chief minister II Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is chairman of the Urimai (United Rights of Malaysian Party) interim council.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.