MOST Malaysians had accepted that corruption, abuse of power and kleptocracy, are national security threats detrimental to the state’s security management, its people, public services, enforcement agencies and government-linked corporations.
In other words, majority of Malaysians had securitised the above evils as existential threats which must be urgently dealt with through extraordinary procedures (EOP).
In security studies, this move is known as securitisation, defined as a politically-driven act, to declare an issue as a real threat, and to urgently eradicate this threat through the use of unconventional approaches beyond the normal standard operating procedures (SOP).
Securitisation is being applied by several international security analysts to identify the strategies of state or non-state actors in managing security issues jeopardising their national security, core national values and critical survival interests.
In 2017, for example, a group of security analysts in Europe had conceptualised general elections as a securitisation process to “reduce risk and uncertainty” existing in a state.
They conducted this study because “at present, elections taking place around the globe appear to pivot on a host of security issues ranging from corruption to terrorism to immigration”.
These analysts had used the securitisation framework of analysis to examine the dynamics and “the relationship between security and elections” in the contemporary world.
Six months ago, another group of analysts studied how Romanian media framed corruption as national security threat to the state.
Hence, it was actually a universal phenomenon when Malaysians securitised corruption, abuse of power and kleptocracy; at the dawn of the 14th General Election (GE14).
Malaysians conducted the securitisation by exercising their democratic rights through the ballot boxes, to overthrow Barisan Nasional (BN).
This people-centric securitisation was conducted because the BN government was reluctant to combat the above crimes, although the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had urged the state’s ruling elites to do so.
This was the primary reason why Malaysia’s non-state actors— comprising leaders and members of the then opposition parties, non-governmental organisations, and ordinary citizens — had championed the cause of combating corruption, abuse of power and alleged kleptocracy in high places.
This “bottom-up” securitisation had garnered massive public support because it aimed to salvage Malaysia from total decadence — politically, institutionally, financially and economically — due to the impact of the alleged 1MDB scandal.
Additionally, almost a year before GE14, the MACC had consistently conditioned the minds of the Malaysian public with numerous alarming realities about corruption.
In April 2011, one MACC officer exposed that corrupt practices in a particular enforcement agency, had caused an estimated RM108 billion being embezzled from the national revenue coffers, and another RM10 billion were illegally transacted overseas.
In 2015, Malaysia was ranked sixth in the list of countries with the worst record of corruption in the world.
On March 9 last year, MACC predicted “corruption and abuse of power involving the public sector since 10 years ago, are expected to increase, unless immediately and concertedly eradicated”.
On July 30 of the same year, Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad, the then MACC chief, was quoted by the media, that corruption in Malaysia had gained the capacity to disrupt and destabilise Malaysia’s national security.
MACC had, in April last year, urged the BN government to securitise corruption and abuse of power “as Malaysia’s number one enemy”.
The then ruling government’s refusal to this proposal, and its inconsistent approach in handling the 1MDB scandal, had accelerated the process of the “people-centric securitisation” mentioned earlier.
Hence, while the MACC aspired to securitise corruption and abuse of power, the government’s top elites were perceived as de-securitising these crimes, purportedly to protect BN’s regime security and the personal survival of its leaders. This perceived de-securitisation constituted as one of the major factors which legitimised the people-centric securitisation on the same matter, at the dawn of Malaysia’s GE14.
Malaysians endorsed this legitimacy on May 9, by supporting the securitisation by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Pakatan Harapan (PH) partners, thereby giving PH a mandate to rule Malaysia.
The above are testimonies to what Dr Mahathir had said in an interview with a local television channel on Oct 21, that Malay-sians had securitised corruption, abuse of power and kleptocracy through the GE14, to salvage the country from political, administrative, institutional, economic and financial wreckage.
Hence, it is only fair to acknowledge that rescuing Malaysia from destruction is an endeavour of the PH government, though not stated in its manifesto.
The writer is a former member of parliament for Parit Sulong, Johor, (1990-2004).