Malaysiakini News

Najib-BN’s ‘blatant corruption’ led to gov’t change, 'won’t happen to S’pore'

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A Singaporean prominent figure says the PAP government wouldn’t suffer BN’s fate, as it isn’t plagued by “massive corruption”.

"It is not the absence of full democratic institutions, it is not the absence of full human rights, or the putting down of dissent, nor the presence of paternalistic governance which brings down a government, or has brought down the (previous) Malaysian government.

"It is the unbridled, egregiously blatant and massively enormous corruption of the (former premier) Najib Razak government which brought him down," said former Singapore Tourism Board director Ho Kwon Ping yesterday at the OCBC Global Treasury Economic and Business Forum at The Ritz-Carlton, Singapore.

According to a report on Today Online, the Banyan Tree Group executive chairperson was commenting on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's earlier comment after Pakatan Harapan’s historic win the May 9 general election, that Singaporeans may also be "tired of their government".

Ho, who has an illustrious career in both the private and public sector at Public Utilities Board, Mediacorp and Civil Service College, said the desire for full democratic institutions doesn’t play a major role in change of government in Asian countries.

"The Asian political culture has shown, that it is not the presence of democratic institutions, but it is the presence of good governance which is most critical," said Ho, a former journalist at then government-owned Singapore Broadcasting Corporation.

"There's a high degree of tolerance within Asian countries for even incompetence.

"But there is very little intolerance for totally selfish regimes which only perpetuate their own well-being."

Ho felt PAP had at least twenty or thirty years to go as the island nation’s only ruling party since independence.

Ho said historically, there is a trend where the passion and integrity of post-independence founding parties persist for about three generations.

Then, these parties would be in a rocky situation, as "hubris sets in and the rot begins".

‘Learn M’sia’s lessons’

He said PAP would only fall if there is massive corruption among its leaders.

If PAP should allow nepotism and cronyism to set in, Singaporeans, who do not tolerate corruption, may show it the door.

This, warned Ho, includes "quasi cronyism amongst cliques of elites", as it draws people from immediate circles of friends, the military or administrative service.

"There must be an inflow of totally fresh new blood into the political system if we are to avoid the futures that we do not wish to have," the hotelier was reported as saying.

Ho added jibes by Malaysians against Singapore "may not be applicable in totality", but admitted there are still some lessons to be learnt.

Among these are “complacency” and party infighting, drawing BN’s example.

Ho said while factionalism "is not necessarily bad" as it induces some competition, a huge split as seen in BN that resulted in its defeat, would be fatal.

BN’s crushing defeat offered Singapore and PAP valuable lessons, he said, "the lessons about hubris, the lessons about keeping close touch with the population, the lessons about keeping scrupulously clean and avoiding any possibility of corruption to infect the political system".

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