Making Corruption History – Cakap Kosong Je ‘Jib!
In San Francisco recently, Prime Minister Najib confidently declared
“to make corruption part of Malaysia’s past, not its future.” The man’s
delusion never ceases to amaze me. The reality is of course far different; corruption
defines the Najib Administration.
if Najib is serious, then he should heed Tengku Razaleigh’s call for Najib to
declare his assets. Otherwise it would
be, to put it bluntly in the vernacular, “Cakap
kosong je ‘Jib!” (Empty talk only!)
Razaleigh’s suggestion, if implemented, would do far more good than all of Najib’s
lofty declarations of “changing organizational as well as business cultures” or
creating “a new governance and integrity minister” and “elevating the
anti-corruption agency.” Malaysians have heard all those ad nauseum, not only from Najib but also his predecessors.
doing what Tengku Razaleigh had suggested Najib still aspires higher, he could begin
by getting rid of those tainted individuals in his administration. Then if he
is really committed to clean and effective governance, he should select only
those with unquestioned integrity and solid accomplishments to be his new ministers
As Najib is
slow to grasp concepts, let me elaborate on those three simple suggestions.
asset declaration. Najib does not need yet another highly-paid consultant
advising him how to do it. There are plenty of effective models out there,
including one recommended by the OECD. The simplest is the one used by American
officials including the president, cabinet secretaries, and Supreme Court
judges. It covers their spouses and all dependent children.
President Obama’s, available publicly at:
The simple eight-page report lists his assets and income, transactions during
the year, gifts received (he had none), liabilities (his home mortgage), and
contracts he is a party to (his old faculty appointment).
effective! As the declaration is filed annually, citizens could tract any
sudden ballooning of assets, income, or extra-generous gifts that could prompt
further enquiry, as well as monitor contracts and activities that could pose as
potential conflict of interest.
his senior officials go further; they release their full income tax returns
If Najib were
to do likewise, rumors of his wife buying million-ringgit rings and getting
extravagant gifts would not have arisen, indeed they were baseless.
If Najib’s ministers
were also to declare their assets, then we would not have the silly specter of
a cabinet minister feigning ignorance of her husband’s quarter-billion ringgit
government-funded business, as Shahrizat tried to do recently. The pathetic
part was that she truly believed that the public would buy her swiftly-concocted
declaring his assets, if Najib aspires for a clean administration, then he should
remove those tainted individuals in his administration. Since Najib is blind to
reality, I will help him identify such proven
glaring is Isa Samad, former Negri Sembilan Chief Minister. Dispensing with his
lackluster tenure as the chief executive of that state, the man was found
guilty of “money politics,” UMNO’s euphemism for plain ugly corruption. Meaning,
he is corrupt even by UMNO’s lax standards, assuming the party has any!
system with even a semblance of integrity, slimy characters like Isa Samad
would have been jailed. In China,
they would be executed. Yet Najib appointed Isa to helm the billion- ringgit
Felda Global Holdings, a GLC. One wonders why Najib is so enamored with this
character. The more intriguing question is why the powerful hold Isa has on
is Ali Rustam, also a former Chief Minister (Malacca). Like Isa, Ali too was
found guilty of money politics. At least voters in his state were wise enough to
boot him out. Now Ali is eyeing for the UMNO Vice-Presidency, as is Isa. Watch
it, Najib will also do an Isa on Ali, that is, appoint him to a senior lucrative
position, making a mockery of Najib’s aim of making corruption history.
Then after getting
rid of the Isa Samads and Ali Rustams Najib still harbors even higher
aspirations, like wanting a crisp and efficient administration, then he could entice
capable Malaysians to join his team.
I suggest co-opting
Keadilan’s Rafizi Ramli. This bright young man has done more than anyone else
to heighten public consciousness of corruption at high places. Rafizi shamed
the anti-corruption agency. Appointing Rafizi would also go a long way towards
a “unity” government. Only the likes of Shahrizat would not welcome his
At the very
least Rafizi’s appointment would significantly lower the average age of Najib’s
cabinet as well as drastically elevate its collective IQ!
other end of the experience spectrum is Tengku Razaleigh. He is from Najib’s
own party too. If Najib is deeply serious about and truly committed to memperkasakan ekonomi Melayu (enhancing
Malay economy) as he asserted recently, well, the Tengku has been there and
done that, and remarkably well too! Look at Petronas and Pernas. Malaysia’s
finances were robust during his tenure as Finance Minister.
Yes, at one
time he helmed the once powerful Bank Bumiputra, now long gone. If Tengku’s
detractors want to taint him with that scandal, remember this. Tengku Razaleigh
is one of the few if not only public figures to have successfully sued for
libel the venerable Financial Times
when it tried to implicate him.
Tengku Razaleigh would give the Najib Administration some adult supervision. Better
yet, Najib should seize the opportunity and take a sabbatical, just like what
Lee Kuan Yew once did. Take a temporary leave from UMNO and Malaysia; learn
about the real world beyond government. Najib would learn that there is a vast
other universe out there not dependent on public paychecks or political
speech during his recent San Francisco trip, Najib chided his critics
especially those residing abroad who “criticize the country but they do not
have any idea on how to contribute to the country.”
not only slow in grasping concepts but he is also not a careful reader. We do
not criticize Malaysia, only his inept leadership. Nonetheless since Najib has
asked for specific ideas, here is one.
Take an extended
sabbatical. Let someone like Tengku Razaleigh take over. Three or four years hence,
in time for the next election, resume your prime ministership. Meanwhile learn as
much as possible about the much bigger and considerably more wonderful world
beyond UMNO. You will be a more effective leader for that, and Malaysia would
be a much better country, both while you were gone and after you return.