ANOTHER senior civil servant has been remanded in a case involving abuse of power, corruption and money laundering. The Rural and Regional Ministry secretary-general, along with his two sons, is being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Arrested while leaving his home, where MACC officers found RM3 million worth of gold bars, 150 luxury handbags, branded watches and foreign currency after a 12-hour search, the man, a Datuk, is just one of the many public servants who, over the past year, have been caught red-handed with loot that cannot be explained away legitimately. If it is any consolation, his RM3 million is peanuts compared with the Sabah waterworks case some months earlier that involved tens of millions of ringgit that was stashed away, as well as other valuable assets, bringing the total to hundreds of millions of ringgit. And, there were several more.
Of late, it has been like opening the proverbial Pandora’s box. The pace has been fast and furious as MACC’s reach stretches to stir the hornet’s nest at the highest level. But, one observation is that the focus seems to be on civil servants. Why are politicians not being investigated?
Is the public to assume that politics is not conducive to corruption?
Is there no scope for abuse of power when, in actual fact, politicians in high office are especially powerful? That a former finance minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was also a former deputy prime minister, was imprisoned for abuse of power is a case in point. What about the ostentation that many of them are wont to display?
Some politicians are rumoured to own properties in London and other global cities. When MACC apprehended some Customs and naval officers, for example, it was discovered that they were visibly living beyond their means. The commission should aim its “guns” at politicians, who, over a short span of time, appear to have gone from rags to riches.
And, what about their cronies, who become millionaires and even billionaires? Would these corporate “high flyers” be where they are if they had not been rubbing shoulders with powerful politicians? The hunt for corrupt men and women must continue.
Leave no stone unturned. MACC cannot afford to slow its pace — not now, when it is in good form, and slowly gaining the trust and confidence of the people. Remember, the Philippines came apart because of rampant cronyism under former president Ferdinand Marcos. From being Souheast Asia’s richest nation, it became a basket case. It shows just how dangerous corruption is, no matter what form it takes. In that lies what constitutes corruption: bribery, embezzlement, cronyism, nepotism. Whether legal or moral; grand or petty; or involving political individuals or otherwise, the impact on the nation is debilitating. Corruption is an evil that must be contained.
MACC, it has been suggested, must be further empowered so that it can execute its duties without fear or favour. Set up under the MACC Act 2009, it is an independent body tasked with “managing the nation’s anti-corruption efforts” with checks and balances to ensure transparency and prevent abuse. Given that the parameters are legally set, courage is all it takes on the part of those manning the commission.