The Malaysiakini latest news report (Pre-polls goodies not graft, says MACC official, July 7, 2015) on how the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) interprets corruption probably best sums up why this nation is all tangled up in a web of political turmoil laced with allegations of billions of ringgit gone missing. And in all likelihood then we may never get out of this sinking hole of corrupt practices.
According to the deputy chief in charge of prevention at MACC, pre-election promises and handouts by the government is not to be regarded as bribery.
For Mustafar Ali of MACC, a case of graft applies only when gratification is ‘given for the purpose of inducing the recipient to do something, or refrain from doing something’.
In other words, when the government gives out goodies in kind or cash close to or during election campaigns there is no inducement whatsoever. It is charity? It is some kind of goody-boy Santa at work? It is a reward to the citizens for being poor and deprived these past five years since the last voting exercise?
When the government puts up huge billboards screaming ‘Satu lagi projek olih Barisan Nasional’, it is also not an inducement to the minds of the humble kampong folks?
When perceptions are moulded and or swayed there is no case of inducement?
If that was not enough an insult to the revered cornerstones of ethics, the deputy head of an all-important anti-corruption body draws an analogy of a government giving aid in times of disaster like aiding flood victims in the state of Kelantan.
To Mustafar Ali of MACC, giving all kinds of goodies in cash and kind close on the heels of an impending general election and during campaigning is government aid and a manifesto to help target groups. Help in what manner, may we ask this seemingly learned man of MACC?
If this indeed is the manifesto of the Barisan Nasional government, then where do we place all the preaching about ethics?
We would have thought that MACC would set the highest demands and standards of ethical practices so that we can collectively strive as a nation of ethical governance and ethics-centric business practices.
But in this case even the very vanguard entrusted to make Malaysia a greater nation of ethical standards thinks, feels and now openly states that giving goodies close to an election deadline must be seen as aid and it is a manifesto for the government.
Let us get ethically honest here. You have a five-year timeline upon forming the government following a general election and you have not given enough aid. So when it nears the completion of your governing period, you rush to give out aid here there and everywhere for what reason? Is that the manifesto that Barisan Nasional upholds?
Then we might as well throw all the talk about ethics in the bin and carry on merrily till kingdom come.
And given all the blatant gerrymandering, learned and wiser Malaysians can kiss goodbye to a free and fair general election as their fellow village voters who make a significant difference to voting outcomes continue to get sucked up to all the aid-manifesto as they cast their votes with loyal hearts.