M. BAKRI Musa’s “No quick fix in fight against corruption” is thought-provoking.
Like Bakri, I cannot help but wonder why no one in the panel discussion that followed after the sultan of Perak’s speech at the launch of the book “Corruption and Hypocrisy in Malay Muslim Politics” suggested that we learn from nations that had successfully tackled the problem, like Singapore.
Singapore is the least corrupt Asian country. The founding father of the modern island city-state Lee Kuan Yew once attributed Singapore’s effective system of combating corruption to four factors in a speech in parliament in 1987. He said:
“First, on the law against corruption contained in the Prevention of Corruption Act; second, on a vigilant public ready to give information on all suspected corruption; and third, on a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) – an anti-corruption agency – which is scrupulous, thorough, and fearless in its investigations. For this to be so, the CPIB has to receive the full backing of the prime minister under whose portfolio it comes. But the strongest deterrent is in a public opinion which censures and condemns corrupt persons, in other words, in attitudes which make corruption so unacceptable that the stigma of corruption cannot be washed away by serving a prison sentence.”
What’s missing in Malaysia?
When, as Bakri wrote, nothing was mentioned or alluded to “the perverse, if not pathological, national deification of that traitor ‘Bossku’ Najib Razak”, the strongest deterrent in a public opinion that censures and condemns corrupt persons must be the one.
Is the government’s determination to clamp down on corruption and wrongdoing also missing? Is the government’s stand against corruption as unequivocal as the Singapore government’s? The late Lee’s son, Hsien Loong, who now leads the city-state, once said of his government’s unequivocal stand against corruption as follows:
“Let me be quite clear: We will never tolerate corruption and we will not accept any slackening. Anyone who breaks the rules will be caught and punished – no cover-ups, no matter how senior the officer or how embarrassing it may be.
“It is far better to suffer the embarrassment and keep the system clean, than to pretend that nothing went wrong and let the rot spread. And part of the solution has to be that if you do it, we will catch and punish you. Political leaders must continue to set high standards of honesty and integrity.
“The society must continue to reject corruption – not just because of rules and penalties, but because this reflects the society we want to live in, and the values we hold ourselves to.”
A public opinion that censures and condemns corruption and corrupt persons and a government that is unequivocal in its stand against corruption constitute what has been referred to as “incorruptibility ingrained in the Singaporean psyche”. (See Lee, H.L., “Incorruptibility ingrained in S’porean psyche”, Straits Times, September 19, 2012)
Is a Malaysian psyche missing as well? – September 24, 2022.
* Hafiz Hassan reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.