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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

My Photo
Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Get Rid of Corrupt and Untrustworthy Leaders

 Get  Rid  Of  Corrupt  And  Untrustworthy  Leaders  

M. Bakri Musa


Two images circulating on social media recently saddened me. One showed Prime Minister Ismail Sabri grinning from ear to ear and with a blank stare handing out cash to Hindu worshippers celebrating their Deepavali. The second, a video clip showing a Malay Barisan Nasional (BN) campaign worker sticking “Undi BN” (Vote BN) bumper stickers to motorcyclists stopped at a traffic light. In return for their permission, those riders were each given a RM100 note.


            Ponder that pathetic first image, Prime Minister ‘Mael (as he is known) handing out cash in a House of Worship begging those devotees to vote for his party. Outright vote buying and in plain sight; corruption plain and simple. Those pious Hindus were busy praying and celebrating their Festival of Light. That Light refers to power, virtue, and knowledge. There is minimal power in those ringgit notes as that currency is fast depreciating. As for virtue, those worshippers were deep in spiritual thoughts. We need no reminder that no religion considers bribing a virtuous act. As such what ‘Mael did was a blasphemy. However, that was not what saddened me about that picture, rather the indelible image it projected to the world–Malay leaders as represented by Ismail Sabri, and thus Malay culture as represented by UMNO, being corrupt. In Islam, breaches of fidelity by leaders are among the greatest sins.


            As for knowledge, ‘Mael revealed not only his lack of that but also moral sensitivity, quite aside from elementary decorum. He was uncouth. His was an act of utter desperation; vile corruptness personified, your typical slimy third-rate Third World politician. It was gross, with no subtlety or any attempt at hiding his hideous act. Judging from his facial expression, he was proud to be involved in that blatant activity. And this character is a lawyer and a Muslim leader!


            The difference between Ismail Sabri and Najib Razak, recently convicted for looting 1MDB, is quantitative not qualitative, a matter of degree not kind. Najib looted billions, Ismail, well, for Najib that would be his pocket change. Regardless, both are pecah amanah.


            Najib at least showed some deference to Hindu culture by dressing himself in proper attire at a similar pre-election campaign in the past. Not this character ‘Mael. At the minimum he should have donned a dhoti(long bright colored overcoat) or one of his gaudy colored open-neck, long over-the-pants shirt that he is so fond of wearing. That temple episode would be comparable to a kafir politician handing out cash in a mosque during Friday prayers and not deferring to our religious sensitivity as in not donning a head cover or keeping his shoes on. What ‘Mail did was sacrilegious, if not obscene beyond imagination.


            As for that campaign worker, one could be charitable and assume that he was being paid an honest wage for his day’s work. As such his earnings would be as halal as that of the roadside goreng pisang (fried banana) seller. Or is it?


            Imagine the behind-the-scene activities associated with that campaign worker. Assume that he was given 100 stickers for the day and at RM100 each, he would receive 100 pieces of that note, totaling RM 10,000 (100 x RM100), for distribution. Do you think that he would paste the whole one hundred stickers, or would he emulate his superiors Ismail Sabri, Zahid Hamidi, and Najib Razak? That is, after pasting the first twenty or so he would throw the rest into the dumpster and pocket the remaining cash. Who would check on him? Besides, he is only emulating them; monkey see, monkey do! 


            That worker would return to his local BN campaign headquarters at the end of the day and pose as a hero to party apparatchiks by refusing to be paid for his work as he was doing it for the “love” of the party!


            Likewise, imagine the behind-the-scene activities of ‘Mael distributing cash in that temple. First, that grinning ‘Mael would have his underlings bring in those pellets of cash to his office or home. He would not trust those mountains of ringgit notes to their custody. Remember Najib? He kept his lodes of cash in his condo, discovered only after the police raid following his coalition’s loss in the 2018 General Elections. He too claimed that those monies were for campaign purposes.


            There was only one problem, and nobody as yet posed that question. The mountain of seized boxes contained currencies in Euros, pound sterling, and US dollar, all in large denominations. Yes, those would come in handy to those poor villagers in Kemaman as they try to buy ikan bilis at the local store with their US$100 or Euro 100 bill!


            That police raid of Najib’s Pavilion condo was broadcasted live worldwide. That was shameful enough, except of course to Najib and his fellow UMNO leaders. However, there was more! A few days following the raid, more than a few members of the police raiding party (all Malays, I am saddened to state) were soon sporting luxury motorcycles, paid for in cash! At one level it is like that earlier campaign worker, another case of monkey see, monkey do. More sinister is that it reflected the entrenched and endemic culture of corruption. This is what Malaysia, specifically Malay culture, has degenerated into. This is the culture that not so long ago undertook a mega event attended by our luminaries extolling its supreme values. Remember that Kongress Maruah Melayu attended by then Prime Minister Mahathir? What a mockery!


            Again, imagine the scene at Ismail’s (and other BN leaders’) residence or office during this election time where those caches of cash are being kept. The risk of pilfering, not by outsiders as they would have no access, but by his household members would also be high. They would not hesitate swiping a few bundles before going shopping. Who is there to check or count? Besides, they would not consider that as stealing or swiping but honest wage or commission earned!


            What Malaysians should do during this campaign is to take the cash offered and later at election time, boot out those corrupt and untrustworthy bastards. Remember, the money those UMNO crooked politicians are dishing out belong to the rakyat in the first place.



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