Malaysiakini Letter

Umno needs to learn accountability from China, Singapore

Ronald Benjamin  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Malaysian leaders are facing a crisis of confidence not only in its moral sphere but also justice system that is more tilted towards safeguarding the regime at all cost. The latest acquittal of National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) alleged culprits and the illogical reasoning of the attorney-general in its dealing with the 1MDB issue has dented the professionalism of those who are supposed to protect public interest through the justice system.

Perhaps Umno leaders could learn from nations which have autocratic elements but yet remain accountable for their performance in public office.

It is obvious that the latest Umno general assembly has produced nothing in term of addressing the trust deficit between the government and the people or its leaders and delegates working towards a clean and accountable government.

Sometimes it is good for the so-called Malay Muslim leaders to look at neighbours Singapore or even China on what it means to be accountable. These nations have autocratic tendencies in their political DNA but at least the leaders at its core are accountable, where tribalism of race and religion or its political dominance is not used to prop up corrupt leaders.

When Deng Xiaoping was at helm in China, his philosophy was it does not matter whether a cat is black or white as long it able to catch the mouse. Even though there has been widespread corruption in China due to communist elites’ involvement in capitalistic-related greed, its leadership has at least taken strong action against leaders at the helm who are involve in corruption.

The current President Xi Jinping has taken a tough line against corrupt governors and high-ranking military officials involved in corruption. According to political analysts, under current President Xi there has been a sustained drive against high-level corruption since the advent of economic reforms in the early 80s.

In Singapore the integrity and accountability of its ministers and a meritocratic system of governance has little place for tribalism. The PAP has a great track record for an honest and accountable government and it has won back its sceptics in the just-concluded general elections.

It is obvious that these nations have grown and Malaysia is still trapped in a time warp of ethno-religious tribalism. The zeal for accountability among the current leaders of China and Singapore has brought these nations to the forefront.

Therefore I believe the first step the Umno leaders need to do is at least learn from these imperfect nations on what it means to be accountable. The Islamic slogan that is used by Umno is basically for self-preservation rather than learning its tenets. So the least it could do is to learn from other nations.

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