Malaysiakini Letter

How do we explain the bauxite fiasco?

TK Chua
Published:  |  Modified:

I refer to the MACC’s statement, as reported in The Malaysian Insider today, that there was no “solid evidence” of corruption involved in the bauxite mining in Pahang.

However, the agency has started an investigation on its own initiative and so far, a few officials from the Land and Mines Office were arrested and more are expected soon .

I think most Malaysians are extremely disappointed with the situation in Pahang. Why wait for the situation to deteriorate to this stage before prompting the authorities to “begin to act” (I am not even sure any concrete measures have been taken so far)?

When oil palm plantations have turned brown, when streams, rivers and now seas have turned red , what further evidence do we need? What kind of mining is this? Casually driving along the highway near the mining areas could also give us more than sufficient evidence that something is not right.

Some years back, I read an article written by a town planner. He introduced a term, “the geography of corruption”, to indicate the degree of corruption in a country.

In any country, there is a “landscape of corruption” that can be quite clearly seen if one is discerning enough. When you see a building that is not supposed to be there, someone must have approved it without adhering to all the conditions.

When you see uncollected rubbish, clogged drains or roads full of potholes, someone could have taken the money but did not do the jobs.

When plantations have turned brown, when streams, rivers and sea have become red, and when fish have died, I think even a nincompoop would know that many in authorities, having taken salaries and perks from the government, are not doing their jobs.

Why do ordinary Malaysians need to distinguish whether it is negligence, omission, incompetence, or accepting bribes that is causing the problem? To them, the effect is the same.

There are many agencies set up and sustained by taxpayers’ money to safeguard and protect public interests in Malaysia.

We have the Land and Mines Department, the land offices, the state exco in charge of land and mines, the Department of Environment, the Health Ministry (through its Public Health Division), the police, the Marine Department, the Agriculture Ministry, the Drainage and Irrigation Department and the municipal councils.

May I know what their roles and functions are in this regard? Are they all waiting for others to act or are they powerless to act, and why?

Look, I am not accusing anyone and I am not even talking about “bribes” or inducements changing hands here. I am just asking why they have not done the jobs they are paid to do.

When we are paid salaries and perks and when we have taken the oaths to perform public duties and protect public interests, may I know whether it is an “offence” if we have not carried them out?

The MACC may have its own legal definitions on corruption but to ordinary Malaysians, what is the difference? The whole environment - top soil, air, water, rivers, seas and fish - had been destroyed because there are those among us who love making money from bauxite mining more than anything else.

I do not put the blame squarely on the MACC, although the department could have acted more quickly and proactively.

To me, this is another government failing. We pay civil servants and members of administration through our posteriors, but we seem to get nothing much in returns.

Everything they govern has turned into mud. It is one fiasco after another, endlessly.

Share this story

OR

Welcome back,

Your subscription expires on
  

Your subscription will expire soon, kindly renew before
  

Your subscription is expired
  Click here to renew

You are not subscribed to any subscription package
  Click here to subscribe now

Any questions?
  Email: [email protected]
  Call: +603-777-00000

Renew