On the eve of the new year every Malaysian should look deep into his or her mind and heart to come up with honest answers on how to tackle the outstanding moral issues plaguing the nation! On the top of the list is corruption and the sheer audacity of the people who perpetuate it both in the public and private arenas.

Let’s face it! No amount of KPIs and NKRAs in the government’s transformation programme is going to eradicate corruption if the people do not see that we ourselves are responsible for the sorry state of moral depravation in the country. No amount of reports and arrests is going to stop the scourge if Malaysians do not accept the fact that immorality starts with each one of  us and penetrates the places we inhabit be it the government, the private sector, the political arenas, the community or the home.

It is convenient to point our fingers at the government and enforcement agencies like the police and MACC and accuse them of not being effective! It is easy to say they are selective in prosecuting only the small fish while the big fish get away with greater abuses of power and misappropriation of the rakyat’s resources. Computing the losses in ringgit and sen and putting the officers responsible behind bars is only the end game of legal enforcement when justice must be seen to be done. 

What about the average person who has been party to the smaller, undetectable acts of bribery and corruption in their lives? What about those of us who know it exists among our family, friends and colleagues and choose to ignore it? Or worse still, those who think there is nothing wrong in going around the rules and regulations to take advantage of  the loopholes in the law for their own personal advantage. What about the lawyers and legal counsels who cleverly interpret the man-made tenets out of duty to their clients and manage to get away with horrendous crimes like rape and murder?

Every Malaysian should introspect our own moral values and principles before we make snide remarks about the lack in others! No doubt there are numerous modern developments that require us to think differently about the issues of human rights, societal liberties, democratic processes, freedom of speech etc. In the quest for private space to do our own thing we sometimes forget that we are in fact impacting society in greater ways than we care to admit. It’s not only the deeds of public figures and celebrities that need greater scrutiny! Our own daily lives have to undergo greater moral inspection!

For the tenets and principles of 1 Malaysia to work, we must start by going back to the basics of the  moral teachings in our religions and holy books. There’s no point in having grandoise plans for economic revival and technological innovation if Malaysians don’t care a damn about right and wrong! There’s no point in telling the world we are a great nation when our morality is in shambles.

At the close of this eventful year, let’s each of us sit back and review our own standards of  morality! Let’s each of us decide to be a moral people that make up a moral society!


9 Responses to “”

  1. 1 harum manis
    January 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I am here through JMD. You wrote an excellent piece on the RCI hoo-ha.

    I am glad to find some one very concerned about the scourge of corruption and blogs about it. I have for some time gotten the impression that corruption has gone so deep in our society that not many people want to talk, much less write, about it. It has become taken for granted, a non-starter, even a politically-incorrect thing to converse about in certain social circles. This post has not drawn any comment though the later one drew many.

    I agree with many things you said in this and previous posts. We all should try to live and think corruption-free. But corruption has almost become a way of life among so many people and in so many sectors of society that it is extremely difficult to get them, and those around them, away from it. Wasn’t it the late Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, the former UMNO Secretary General himself, who said that UMNO has been rotten to the core. Tun Dr Mahathir made refernce to this in his blog. The young now has started to know about corruption. This will make the disease not only endemic but also systemic.

    I think there is a need to have a systematic approach to ending corruption. Education. The young, through the schools, via civic lessons and such, and the adults through the mass media, both print and visual. The Ministry of Information and Mass Media can play a significant and leading role. Of course, the best lesson is the court prosecutions and interdictions. But all these require a huge political will. That is the biggest problem of all. People in glass houses do not throw stones to one another.

    Nevertheless, I feel that those who have an aversion to this menace should do whatever he or she can to reduce the problem. Even just talking about it as often as possible. In the hope that a few would get persuaded to spread the message and eventually make the non-hardcore culprits stay away from the habit.

  2. 2 harum manis
    January 2, 2010 at 9:32 am


    You said, “immorality starts with each one of us and penetrates the places we inhabit be it the government, the private sector, the political arenas, the community or the home.. It’s not only the deeds of public figures and celebrities that need greater scrutiny! Our own daily lives have to undergo greater moral inspection!” Agreed.

    It’s a matter of integrity as you said elsewhere, values, upbringing, way of life, even culture. Someone wrote about industrialisation and modernisation breaking down social values – rural-urban migration, advent of TV and mass communication, globalisation and what not. Right from the time when India started to modernise after independence, factories and industries of all sorts, the rat-race kind of life, the hustle and bustle of city life, maddening crowd and traffic jams, people complaining no longer having the time to say a few words to the neighbour across the road. But we must make the effort to maintain integrity in our conduct, hold the family together, impart the good values and attempt at social cohesion. Especially now when racial polarisation is heightening, I think. Ours is a more complex society with more varied problems than the homogeneous ones.

    But the question is, how do we go about it? You have proposed, “going back to the basics of the moral teachings in our religions and holy books.” Also agreed. But I think there are limitations and we need more.

    One History Professor who wrote 600+ pages of the history of China, where corruption was rampant even over 2,000 years ago, said that if the wrongs of society are not continuously criticised, they become the norm. If further unchecked, they become a way of life. He quoted the case of Prohibitionism in the US and the corrupt practices of the Consort families and the eunuchs in China which led to a situation where practically anything the people want of or from the Emperor must be greased literally with gold. The eunuchs ended up wielding tremendous power and influence, controlling the appointments of almost all the officials at the Central, Provincial, even Municipal levels. Those aspiring to official posts made it a business, found the capital to raise the gold by borrowing, begging or whatever, recouped their investment and amassed much more as soon as they got the posts. Now China literally hangs or shoots those found guilty of corruption and, despite the regimented discipline under the communist system, the scourge is still rearing its ugly head there. We in Malaysia definitely need more than stringent laws and stiff enforcement to get corruption checked.

    No need to go into the history of corruption and who influenced who in this country. Let’s just face the facts that even UMNO has been corrupt to the core for some time already. The other BN and even the opposition political parties are also corrupt. I can go on and on but I’d be monopolising your blog space.

    Suffice to say that until and unless there is that huge political will to tackle the corruption bull by the horn, what has appeared to become a norm now may become a way of life, a Malaysian culture. I wish there are active citizens action groups and NGOs periodically but peacefully parading the streets with placards and banners condemning corruption. I wish there are newspapers actively supporting anti-corruption activities. I wish the IPCMC recommended by the Police Commission of Inquiry some years ago be set up. Imagine, almost every other officer at Bukit Aman was said to be corrupt. This was said by no less than the former Inspector General of Police, Tun Hanif Omar, in his column in the Star newspaper in the latter part of 2008. He was quoting a then-ACA Director who told him during a golf game that about 40% of the offucers at Bukit Aman could be arrested purely on the grounds of living beyond their means. Alas, all these remain mere wishes. I’m unable to take an active part physically due to certain limitations.

  3. 3 amanshahkhalid
    January 2, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Definitely corruption has embedded deep in our society so deep that some of us feel it is entrenched in us! That may sound a bit harse but that is the fact of life. I had the opportunity to work both in the public and private sectors until my retirement and the way to personal success ($) in the public sector and for companies to grow is via corruption! There is no way a company can progress without submitting to such demands. It’s sad but that’s the way of life in our society today. Early education may help but humans change and succumb to their needs…..money! How much salary you pay those who are corrupted they will still demand more illegally. Just like prostitution (pardon me for saying so) corruption is here to stay!

  4. 4 ninitalk
    January 3, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Thank you harum manis for your 2 insightful and well argued comments.
    Thank you amanshahkhalid for reminding us of the inevitability of some things in life!

    Yes – corruption is an aspect of power and the power games that people play because life is so unequal! Because of society’s numerous disparities – poor v wealthy; haves v have-nots; rural v urban; educated v uneducated and semi-educated; developed v undeveloped; English speaking v non- English speaking; eastern v western values and traditions; religious v secular; otherwordliness v materialism etc etc etc – there is a mad scramble to achieve a more equitable and equal status in our day to day existence! Because of the mad bid to develop physically, our leaders have sidelined the spiritual. They allude to it and sporadically call for the eradication of corruption but as you say, harum manis, there is no proper system or attempt to seriously educate the public! Police/ MACC reports, investigations and arrests are not enough!

    I agree there must be a huge public awareness campaign which must be taken to the streets, to the nooks and corners of the country via the media and public platforms by the government, NGOs, political parties, schools and institutions of learning, community movements, families!Involve the people on Ground O!

    The apathy and indifference of Malaysians to corruption and abuse of power is shocking! Many actually do not believe it is morally wrong! Because the higher-ups blatantly commit it, people down the line have adopted a devil-may-care attitude!

    Corruption and abuse of power is an aspect of life at the top by people lower down the rungs; it’s an aspect of the hierarchies in society and the exploitation of men by their fellow men. It is an age-old curse of society and Malaysia is heading in the direction of India, Indonesia and China if Najib’s government does not wake up with a more strategic plan of action! KPIs and NKRAs may become convenient slogans!

    It is the direct effect of rapid, modern development and thrives in developing nations because of the abundance of opportunities and excuses to make money!

    Keep your comments coming harum manis and amanshahkhalid and write to the papers as I do! I believe we can influence public thinking

  5. 5 harum manis
    January 3, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Thanks for the response Nina.

    I have written to the papers under one pseudonym or another in the past since the time of Dato A Kadir Jasin. But as I became more and more cynical, I was more and more politically incorrect in my views and statements as well, particularly on the subject of corruption. They were instances of my comments being rejected and, I suppose a bit like Tun Dr Mahathir, I turned to blogs, also under various nics, for various reasons. I don’t own a blog, preferring to use the time in managing one to write my thoughts out, “menenggek” (to use an MCKK colloquial) those owned by others.

    Good that you get published and reach a wider audience. No doubt blogs like Chedet are well read and receive hundreds of comments to every post but there are times I prefer the ones not cluttered by anti-national and less responsible comments, in the hope that I get read by a responsible and reasonable audience. It’s futile to deal with the hardcore wayward fellows as it’s almost impossible to get any sense into them; let the authorities handle the subversive and seditious ones. I certainly would like to continue thinking aloud in your blog and thank you for the opportunity.

  6. 6 nini
    January 4, 2010 at 8:54 am

    You are most welcome to “menenggek”! My blog is going to be a year old and I’m pleased that it has attracted substantive comments. I myself menenggek for 3-4 years before deciding to go solo because, like you harum manis, I was cheesed off by the number of unsavoury comments by irresponsible commenters.

    My blogging objective is also to be interactive so I always try to post a reply. As a writer it’s fulfilling to know what people think and how they argue out their case – and to be able to explain/justify your stand further.

    Of course I’d like more people to read my blog but for the moment I’m happy with the readership and comments. I select the pieces that I think are suitable for the MSM papers or make slight modifications where necessary.

    I’ve learnt over the years how to slant my writings and viewpoints and always include an element of constructive criticism for readers to ponder about. After all we do want to build up the nation, not destroy what we have!

  7. 7 amanshahkhalid
    January 5, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks for your kind comments Nini.I like to write in your blog as I believe you have established a certain amount of credibility in your writings…acceptable to many intelligent readers. So like Harum Manis, I too seek your goodwill for me to “menenggek” your blog!From my experience though it is so difficult to eradicate corruption in our society, there is however, a way to do it that is if you have the will. Corruption can be reduced or totally eradicated if those at the top are clean, transparent and hands on! I know of an organisation that practises those positive traits amongst the top management. It all started when one of the top personnel was playing hanky panky and the matter was secretly reported to the then Anti Corruption Agency (ACA). The ACA acted fast and efficiently and the top personnel was caught redhanded! The drastic and positive action taken by the top management soon spread throughout the organisation including the contractors and suppliers. Nobody dares to to make a quick buck at the expense of the organisation. In Malaysia’s context the PM and Ministers must be clean and transparent. Only with those attributes ‘entrenched’ in them can Malaysia eradicate corruption!

  8. 8 ninitalk
    January 5, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    amanshahkhalid – I hope you don’t mind my pasting your comment on my latest posting PUBLIC CAMPAIGN as it is apt and relevant. I do agree that the spokespersons, role models and people at the top must themselves be squeaky clean, otherwise the anti-corruption movement is a farce!

    But the public has to apply greater pressure and more people must speak up before we take to the streets and hold up placards.

  9. 9 amanshahkhalid
    January 6, 2010 at 7:10 am

    By all means Datin….I have no objection and nothing to hide at all as my objective, I believe, like yours is to create awareness amongst the top people and society at large on the scourge of corruption. I read recently in the local press that corruption in Malaysia is alarming…..imagine a staggering figure of about RM 10 billion gone into their pockets annually, tax free! I strongly believe it is much more than that. It is no surprise that the Government had to appoint 2 Ministers, hopefully, to take care of KPI AND NKRA! Anyway they are attempting to do something about it but sadly buildings are falling down and equiptment are missing and junior executives and officers are dragged to courts. Somebody has to be the scapegoat, right?

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