Lack of Integrity At The Very Top

August 02, 2010

by Bakri Musa

Tiada Maruah (Lack of Integrity) At The Very Top

Last week I wrote, “So we have two disturbing displays of less than exemplary behaviors if not outright lack of professionalism at the highest levels of our civil service.  One is the Chief Secretary not hearing both sides to the Lim Eng Guan and Nik Ali squabble before rendering judgment, and the other, the Solicitor General failing to recognize a breach of professional ethics.”

M. Bakri Musa

I penned that piece too soon.  For a few days later we have yet a third example from another top civil servant, this time Attorney General (AG) Gani Patail.  Responding to the allegation of improper behavior by one of his prosecutors in the Sodomy II trial, Gani Patail simply reassigned her.

Living ten thousand miles away I have little to do with the Malaysian civil service.  My daily life is thus not affected by these tiada maruah (lack of integrity) folks at the top.  The organization however, is essentially Malay; likewise the political establishment.  These top civil servants and political leaders are thus seen as representing the best of not just their organizations but also of Malays.  Consequently, their shortcomings are viewed less as personal failures but more of our community.  When they behave tiada maruah, collectively Malays are also seen as such.  That is what makes me angry.

Essence of the Exposé

The AG justified his action “to remove any negative public perception of the prosecuting team.”  He did not address

DPP Farah Azlina Binti Latif

the substance of the allegation; he managed only the perception and ignored the reality.

Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) first made the explosive allegation in Malaysia Today (  In a headline-blaring column titled, “The Bizarre Case of Sodomy 2,” RPK in his trademark style named the specific prosecutor, and rightly characterized the indiscretion as “a conflict of interest of the first degree.”

The allegation appeared at the end of a long article, and seemed more as an afterthought.  You have to read his entire piece to get to the stunning revelation.  Those who gave up earlier would miss it.  It was as if RPK was challenging his readers to be thorough and not be content with only the headlines and few introductory paragraphs.

There was also a teasing coyness to the exposé; it was uncharacteristically brief.  Beyond the mention of the name, there were no other details.  It was as if RPK was laying a trap.  Throw a teaser out, and then see those bastards falling all over themselves condemning him.

This time however, there was silence.  There were no hysterical accusations or righteous condemnations that RPK was purveying “half-truths,” or as one novice politician would put it, “only 40 percent facts and the rest made up.”

My gut feeling is that RPK reveals way less than 40 percent of what he knows or has information on this evolving scandal.  I had hoped that those UMNO jackasses would have resorted to their usual mouth-frothing denunciations of RPK.  Then I could see him salivating like a lion that had successfully lured its prey to a trap where it could be pounced upon mercilessly.

Alas, no one walked into the trap.  So we have to be patient with RPK or hope that someone would aggravate him enough for him to reveal the sordid details, perhaps titillating snippets of the videotape of the amorous illicit encounter!

The Larger Issue

It took less than a week for Gani Patail to respond to RPK’s revelation; unusually ‘efficient.’  This promptness, while laudatory, did not excuse his avoiding the heart of the matter – the truth to the allegation.  For if the allegation were other than the “only 40 percent facts,” then the AG would have perpetrated a grave injustice on the young lawyer.  Far from reassigning her, she should have been publicly exonerated, her integrity openly defended.

At the very least she should have been accorded due process.  Even an accused murderer deserves that!  The AG should be the last person to have to be reminded of this elementary legal tenet.  Here we have the obscenity of the AG having a press conference first, with the poor prosecutor learning of her fate not from the media.  Simple decency demanded that the AG should have met with the alleged wayward lawyer first, to get her side of the story and then to inform her of his decision.

If the allegation were true, then the AG has more than a serious disciplinary problem.  There are the legal issues with respect to the Sodomy 2 trial.  Additionally, the alleged act was also criminal per the Sharia.

Gani Patail cannot abrogate his responsibility.  It is not enough for him to simply declare, “… [A]ny personal matter, if it can have any implication in whatever form on the department, will be handled very seriously.”  He also has to demonstrate it.

If the allegation has substance, then the AG must remind himself that if she is not disciplined now, she would continue winding her up the civil service.  She could one day be a judge or even the AG.

I am not concerned here with the career trajectory of a young lawyer.  Nor am I particularly perturbed at the ineptness of some of our high level officials.  I have seen enough similar examples elsewhere to be able to put that in perspective.  The Peter Principle is after all universal.

I am however concerned with the pattern of tiada maruah leadership in the civil service and other essentially Malay entities.  The recent scandal at Sime Darby reflects the pervasiveness of this blight. Again this being Malaysia, the racial element is never far from the public radar.  One only has to read the bigoted comments on the Internet and elsewhere to be painfully reminded of this.

These tiada maruah Malays only feed this ugly stereotype.  Of all people I would have expected them to be conscious of this, and thus make every effort to ensure that their behaviors would help tear down this unfair image.

I am not in the least comforted by the fact the Indian civil service is even more bloated and lumbering, or that the folks in Beijing are hideously more corrupt (note the recent scandal of tainted baby formulas) and disrespectful of basic human rights (witness their all too frequent summary executions).  We are talking about Malaysia here, with our own rules, norms and expectations.

The other communities too have their own peculiar blights.  The scandals with MAIKA and Port Klang Free Zone Project are obscene reminders of that.  To me that is neither an excuse nor a consolation.

I feel for those honest, competent and diligent public servants who are Malays.  They give all they have for the nation but their good work is being overshadowed by these yahoos at the top.

How did the likes of Gani Patail reach the top?  Likewise, I keep wondering how such unimaginative, frankly corrupt, and not terribly competent people get to lead us.  More importantly, why did we let them?  The answers elude me.

We can only change the negative image of our community by changing the reality.  Vote these corrupt and incompetent bastards out!  Voting them in again would only encourage them.  Indeed this is exactly what has been happening.  By repeatedly voting them in for the past 50 years, we are implicitly condoning if not encouraging their wayward ways.

Once we have capable political leaders, they will take care of the Napoleons in the public service, the little as well as the big ones.  In the meantime we must do everything we can to shame them.  This essay is an exercise in that.  Come the election, we can punish them.

Those who love our community and champion its cause, including the Ketuanan Melayu folks, would do well to enlist in this urgent and critical mission of ridding our community of these tiada maruah leaders and civil servants.  Unless we destroy the blight now, it will be the undoing of our society.  This is where we should focus.  We must not be distracted by such imagined enemies as the pendatangs (immigrants), capitalism, or globalization.  The enemy is us, specifically our leaders.

23 thoughts on “Lack of Integrity At The Very Top

  1. ayo doc,

    once a liar always will be one.we wait and see how they reply
    and creating doubt is the trick.m sure more in terms of ‘legal
    evidence’,otherwise defend team only have benefit of assumption.
    this is also not fair to saiful.

    the bigger picture is,we need to get fdis in.none due to ‘correct
    correct’judiciary and same ag and same igp.

    they seems complicit in a systems of corruption,injustice and
    self interest.

    changing pol leader must also accompied by systematic but
    gradual reform of civil hong kong.

    just a thought sir.


  2. How to disagree with the Doctor in Silicon Valley. I admire him for his continuing interest in Malaysia and for doing his best in the struggle to bring about change.

    I have friends who work very hard to uphold the great traditions of the Malaysian civil service. But they are too few in number.I am of the view that the present bunch of goons including the KSN must go, if we are desirous of excellence in public service. But the nila is leaving blemishes on the service.

    National tranformation must start with the civil service. I think, Idris Jala knows what he is up against when he wants to execute his program to transform the mindset of the present crop of civil servants.

  3. I wonder if civil servants, especially the top, care about what we say on this blog and elsewhere. They are too comfortable with the system as it is. They can play golf and suck up to the politicians and for all that, they are rewarded with good salaries, bonuses and perks and get fancy titles from the government and the Malay sultans once they reach a certain level in the career grading system. They do not lose their jobs for non-performance. In fact, they are reward. Look at this Nik Ali Baba, the SDO, in Penang. That said, we must like Dr. Bakri soldier on.–Din Merican

  4. It’s sad when many of us non-Malays paint the entire community with the same brush on matters of corruption, integrity, morality, diligence and capability.
    But that’s the reality! The Malays (in UMNO and the civil service) have lost their Malayness as salt has lost its saltiness.

    Look! even the CJ is a tainted man. He cheated on his wife and bribed court staff. The IGP is connected to the underworld. The AG is a scum. Look at the quality of the Malay judges who protect criminals and punish the innocent.
    The PM himself is tainted with allegations of khalwat, corruption and murder. The DPM made his millions when he was Johor MB.
    A former CM who raped a young girl was defended by the then PM.

    Yet all of them portray all the externals of piety and holiness – defending religion blah, blah when they are downright hypocrites.

    Fortunately there are many Malays of integrity like Bakri, Din, Khalid Samad, Dr Bari, Dr Azmi, Tunku Abdul Aziz, and many more to uphold Malay Integrity and Maruah.
    The Malayness will return if UMNO is dethroned.

  5. How did these triad flurs get to their very top? It’s called ball carrying – ‘Bodekism’, plain and simple. Hatchet men, all of them. That’s what entitlement breeds. ‘Mauruah’ is actually a very difficult term to define, but i think Lawyer (1:29) has said it quite well: “incorruptiblity, integrity, morality, diligence and capability”.

    Nope – the Malay civil servants at ‘the top’ think that your blog is trash, Din. They prefer to read “auta-san” news, because it reminds them that they are sitting on the top of the dung heap. There are those however, who are attracted to “debased” things; and they may be reading it the wee hours of the morning, after their porn session. Otherwise, they have a hireling read it them, after filtering out the ‘good’ stuff. Nah, they won’t change – too BTN’ed. Btw, the SDO is mighty junior in the scheme of things and we have a whole horde of PSC protecting his nonsense.

    I wonder what makes for Reality, for these predators? Hunger? BTN syllabus, when they were first inducted?

  6. Bro Din,
    If you want KSN to read your blog just cut and paste your URL and e-mail it to TAN SRI MOHD SIDEK HASSAN. Here is his e-mail.

    I can assure you 100 percent that it will reach him @ his latest BlackBerry smart phone paid by taxpayers.

  7. What can this KSN Sidek Hassan do? His actions in the recent SDO Nik Ali Baba case in Penang is so obvious he is not cut out to be the KSN.

  8. Hola Dr Bakri

    What more do you want sir? Civil servants are here to stay. Only politicians can be removed. The Nik guy has already been told to shut up by the KSN. The case is closed. Guan Eng has to live with him. He’s there to stay.

    Gani Patail has also removed the woman lawyer alleged to be involved with Saiful. In the first place it was not even proven to be true. But Gani was good to bar her from the case.

    Mr Merican

    How about writing on the power stuggle in the DAP. It’s clear that Tee Boon Hock was vicitmised. Instead of sacking Ronnie Liu, Tee was sacked.Twittering about Tee also caused a leader to be hauled up by the DAP central working committee. All is not well in the DAP too.

    Sayang bangsa,

    Most articles chosen for this blog deal with issues which I find interesting to discuss between all of us. This is like a ‘forum’. I only write on civil society issues. If you can write and get it published in MalaysiaKini or Malaysian Insider, I will be happy to post it on blog for our discourse.

    I do have a full time job as an economist; blogging is just my passion. Writing is time consuming and requires research. I will not use any articles that are not credible or poorly written. The blog is open to all who want a better Malaysia.–Din Merican

  9. Din,

    How to soldier on when PR reps are wishy washy as well?? Look at what’s happening in Klang DAP today?? A bloody disgrace.
    JJx, I am NOT the mouthpiece of DAP or Pakatan Rakyat nor BN. All the parties have problems, some more severe than others. It is up to their membership and leaders to sort things out.–Din Merican

  10. You’re right, Din. They don’t give two hoots. You can cry yourself hoarse. Things are so good for them, why rock the boat? The perks they get are too good to be true. Upon retirement they’ll be appointed to GLCs and get paid for doing nothing. That’s the reward for “saya yang menurut perintah”.

    Once Sidek goes there’ll be more Sideks waiting in the wings. Remember, this is Bolehland where everything and anything is possible for the right price, of course.

  11. Err.., what has Pandamaran fiasco to do with the ‘view at the top’?
    Bumno going-ons are much worse! Seems that these are desparate measures to distract from the “Lanun-ization” of the country. On a scale of 1-10, i’d give the DAP news 0.5, compared with a 10 for ‘perversion of justice’.

    Btw Tok Cik, that KSN at one time wanted to run a service station to wash your CooperS. Didn’t work out cuz he got promoted..

  12. Bravo,

    This is ….straight talk to those “few”…… do not disgrace your “bangsa”….this is really “sayang bangsa”… sorry….sayang bangsa(3.54pm)…not referring to you.

    Hidup Malaysia !!!

  13. Dear Menyalak-er,

    It has everything to do with the ‘view at the top’.

    PR-DAP have yet to take Putrajaya and they are already showing their fangs in greasing em’ contracts already. Imagine what will happen if these lot take Putrajaya??

    Yes, UMNO is worse but DAP is already showing its ‘potential’. Whether you give it a 0.5 rating, corruption is corruption no matter whats the scale.

  14. Cut-and-paste to the KSN, did you say, Tean?

    I tried that once, a complaint, and I got a reply 3 months later, long after i had forgotten I had even written to him. And the answer was a predictable, “no, nothing wrong” with what I had complained about. In other words I was a liar, and had nothing better to do with my time but write to such busy people.

    To recast what my professor said, “the easiest way to go to heaven without dying is to be a KSN (and most of all the JUSAs in the Service)”.

    Cheers, I think.

  15. This is my version of M. Bakri Musa’s otherwise excellent piece – my changes are in CAPITALS:

    Living ten thousand miles away I have little to do with the Malaysian civil service. My daily life is thus not affected by these tiada maruah (lack of integrity) folks at the top. The organization however, is essentially MalaySIAN; likewise the political establishment. These top civil servants and political leaders are thus seen as representing the best of not just their organizations but also of MalaySIANs. Consequently, their shortcomings are viewed less as personal failures but more of our COUNTRY. When they behave tiada maruah, collectively MalaySIANs are also seen as such. That is what makes me REALLY REALLY angry.

  16. Hahaha.. JJx, i have little passion for DAP, but i consistently vote for them over the years – anything but apanama. To do otherwise, means i’ll have to shift my address. When you meet up with the devil, anything less demonic is welcome. Nah, this flurs are lil’ backroom boys – relatively inocous in the grand scheme of things. Factions? Biasa lah.

    Writing/e-mailing KSN? C’mon guys, even God answers much faster without the drama! At the very least, you won’t get a “No Comment!”

  17. You’ve time to email the devil? Waa.. that’s news. I won’t waste my time and money emailing someone named Sidek in Putrajaya. Better to email Pizza Hut. You’re assured of a response.

  18. “The AG justified his action “to remove any negative public perception of the prosecuting team.” He did not address
    the substance of the allegation; he managed only the perception and ignored the reality” Dr Bakri Musa

    As a lawyer you are not allowed to have anything but a professional relationship with witnesses. If you have an existing relationship – other than professional – with any of the witnesses you are duty bound to disclose it. You will then be excused. We do not want issues of perception to tarnish the right of the accused to due process.

    In this case it is alleged that a member of the prosecution team, herself a lawyer, has an on-going romantic relationship with one of the witnesses – before the fact or after the fact, we are not told. The fact that he is the prosecution’s star witness does not change or add anything. The initial reaction to its public disclosure was rather quick and defensive. The AG did right by removing her from the prosecution team in order to preserve the integrity of the judicial process.

    The AG is right. Whatever the nature of the relationship is, if it is anything other than professional than he would have to set it right. The mere perception is enough. It could have been nothing more than a past relationship that has run its course which could be the reason behind the non-disclosure. If it is a relationship that develops on the job, then needless to say this young and inexperienced trial attorney has found herself in hot soup with her profession – not just her employer.

  19. One interesting point the good Dr. brought up regarding RPK disclosure is his approach. When I first read the article, I get the feeling that RPK knew more than what he was telling. It was uncharacteristic of him to write that way. I believe that he has more up his sleeve in respect to this case. A video? photographs perhaps? He is challenging the AG and that’s why the AG was quick to get rid of the lady in question. I anticipate more to come on this case. RPK is after the AG and Najib blood.

  20. “I penned that piece too soon….”

    That’s funny. Mr.Bakri you can never pen too soon. The incompetency and unprofessionalism of those in high positions happens daily that it might actually be difficult to catch up.

    My uncle who was a civil servant was sent to Harvard for some seminar along with some other government officers. What happened was that some of these officers actually paid some students to attend that seminar and do the work or report for them while they go makan angin. And people wonder why even after sending these officers to train overseas they are still incompetent. But these kind of people wouldn’t care to improve themselves as long as you have people like sayang bangsa who would readily give them a pat on the back even after doing a lousy job.

  21. Didid

    Taking a swipe at me. yah. thank you.
    i am very aware of this. We were in Chicago for a conference, and many skipped workshop sessions, to shop including buying I-Pads.

  22. It’s so fun taking swipes at you Sayang Bangsa. Oh no I hope you are not among the ones skipping the conference for some overpriced chinese made product. You’ll very much disappoint me. I actually held you in higher esteem despite me taking jabs at you.

  23. “As a result of the affair, [the] integrity of prosecution has been compromised,” said Karpal.

    Anwar’s contention is that since Saiful was allegedly having an affair with Farah, he would be privy to important trial documents as Farah was part of the prosecution team till last Monday, when Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail announced that she had been dropped following the affair claims.


    I can understand where Karpal is coming from and going with his statement. But I’m not sure where Anwar is coming from with his, though I understand where he is going with that statement.

    What matters is equal access to all relevant information both exculpatory or inculpatory. Both will have to be disclosed in the interest of justice. The list of witnesses will have to be disclosed and depositions taken. It makes for a speedier trial. No surprise witnesses. No ambushing of each other. It is about the constitutional right of the accused to a fair and speedy trial.

    Our justice system is an adversarial one and attorneys are like two gladiators fighting it out in the public arena. You cannot have one gladiator being forced to do battle with one hand tight behind his back.

    If that is the aspect of the judicial process Anwar was referring to, I would agree.

    Anwar tends to steal the limelight away from his lawyers when giving press conferences. It would not be fair to blame Anwar, a lay person if he fails to understand, for example, the criminal procedure code or the adversarial nature of the judicial process and what it has to offer to both sides. His lawyers should restrain the man from making statements touching aspects of the judicial process over which he lacks an understanding.

    I blame his lawyers. But then Anwar Ibrahim is such a charismatic leader who believes if the truth is with him then nothing could go wrong. Well, he should know better since everything which could go wrong has gone wrong for him.

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