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‘Cleaning up’ after Mr. Clean April 3, 2007

Posted by elizabethwong in Current Affairs, Democracy, Malaysia, Note2Self, Politics, Readings.

Completely missed out on this earlier. Feel even more depressed than the Machap ‘joke’/story after reading this.


Mar 22nd 2007 | BANGKOK
From The Economist print edition

Cleaning up?


Sleaze saps the prime minister’s election prospects

CHEERY statements on the economy by Malaysian ministers and the pro-government press are prompting speculation that the prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, will call an election this year, even though he need not do so until 2009. The economy is doing fairly well—although economists think growth will be perhaps 5.5% this year, not 6% as the government predicts. However, hanging over Mr Badawi is his failure to keep his promise to curb official corruption. Two surveys out this month suggest that little progress is being made on this front. Worse, some big sleaze scandals have broken, suggesting that the rot reaches close to the top.

The man who is supposed to lead the clean-up, Zulkipli Mat Noor, the head of the country’s Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), has himself been accused of illicit enrichment by a former underling. In a separate case, a deputy police minister is accused of taking bribes to set criminal suspects free. Mr Badawi has rejected calls to suspend the two officials while the allegations, which both deny, are investigated.

If all this were not disturbing enough, a gruesome murder case involving a government adviser, due in court in June, may prove even more incendiary. Two members of an elite police unit are accused of killing a Mongolian fashion model, whose corpse was apparently blown up with explosives. Abdul Razak Baginda, a political analyst, is accused of abetting them. Mr Razak Baginda is close to Mr Badawi’s deputy as prime minister, Najib Razak, who also oversees the police unit in question. Though Mr Najib has not been accused of any wrongdoing, there is speculation that the trial could force his resignation.

It is widely believed that Mr Badawi doubts his deputy’s loyalty, and many observers think he might not be too downcast to see a potential challenger brought down. None of the present rash of scandals has cast doubt on Mr Badawi’s own integrity. Even so, the rising tide of sleaze seems likely to leave a permanent stain on his reputation as a reformer.

A survey this month by PERC, a Hong Kong-based consultancy, shows that while some neighbouring countries—Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines but not squeaky-clean Singapore—are seen as even more graft-ridden, corruption is perceived to have worsened in Malaysia since last year. The prime minister has brushed such fears aside, insisting that 85% of corruption allegations prove baseless. But in truth few are properly investigated, and even when cases do reach court, proceedings can drag on for years. Mohamad Ramli Manan, the ACA inspector making accusations against his boss, has also alleged that he was earlier sidelined for refusing to drop a case against a former cabinet minister, Kasitah Gaddam, whose corruption trial has rolled on for two years.

 A survey this month by Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog, hinted at one explanation why so few cases are cleared. It showed that both the public and businessmen see the police as by far the most corrupted institution (see chart). From business’s point of view, only political parties come close (though the public, which should presumably reap the benefits, has not noticed). Reforming the police is another of Mr Badawi’s broken promises. Two years ago, a royal commission he set up called for an independent police-complaints body. But the force’s chiefs objected. So far they have had their way, despite sharply rising crime—murders increased by 22% last year.

Mr Badawi’s governing coalition has a strong electoral machine, while the opposition remains split between Islamists and secularists. So Mr Badawi is most unlikely to lose the election, whenever he calls it. His main threat is from plotters on his own benches, who might be tempted to move against him if public anger at sleaze and crime deprives him of the big majority he won in the last election, in 2004.



1. yh - April 4, 2007

he is not going to dupe us again. sure, BN is gonna win again with kampung folks vote but there is going to be a hurricane wind of change in the urban and semi-urban areas.
he is doing what he can now including mortgaging the country’s future in his attempt to reverse the current situation. and hiding behind development mantra, billions will go down the drain of which a large portion will go to his cronies.

2. Libra - April 4, 2007

If the discriminated and keris-threatened Chinese, marginalized Indians and gullible and UMNO trusting Malays continue to vote for the Barisan, then all I can say is “God, save this country!”.

3. CT - April 4, 2007

How come we have left out the Ministry of Work (Samy’s turf) which is causing taxpayers fund billions of $$$. He and his stupid “technical mistakes” in building highways, schools, and hospitals can be channeled into toll subsidies instead of burdening we, Malaysians….This guy’s file should be the first to be opened by ACA…How much of our daily expenses gone to the toll operators???(and also Samy’s pocket)…….

4. Santinasi - June 6, 2007

You go to get a balance inquiry, and instead of printing out a receipt the screen says: “Not worth wasting paper”, and ejects your card. You try to get a balance inquiry, and the screen says: “Account not found.” and keeps your card.
You insert your card, and try to get some cash, and the ATM laughs and spits out your shredded card.
You withdraw some money to pay some bills, count it, and the screen says: “What, you thought there was some EXTRA there? HA!”, and ejects your card clear across the room.
You think you’ve got $100 in your account and go to take out $50, and the screen says: “Not in this lifetime.” and laughs as you bang on the machine, trying desperately to get your card back that the machine has taken.
You go to the ATM, and there’s a picture of you a-la-“Most Wanted” staring forlornly at the ATM camera with a caption that reads: “Wanted for trying to get water from a dry well.”
Bankers do it risk-free.
Bankers do it just for money.
Bankers charge a fee each time they do it.
Bankers do it with varying rates of interest.
Bankers do it with a penalty for early withdrawal.

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