Corruption is a Serious Matter, Mr. MACC

March 12, 2018

Corruption is a Serious Matter, Mr. MACC

by R.

Image result for Corruption is a serious matter

COMMENT | In May last year, under a blaze of publicity, six police officers including an OCPD and district crime chiefs in Malacca were arrested by the MACC for running a protection racket involving gambling dens. The big news was that anti-graft officers seized RM186,000 in cash and froze the bank accounts of all the suspects, totaling more than RM459,000.

Almost a year later, there has hardly been a whimper from MACC. In July last year its Deputy Chief Commissioner (Operations) Azam Baki, in denying the files have been closed, said investigations against a few Malacca police officers “are still in progress” without interference from the “higher-ups”.

In September last year, two brothers, who hold “Datuk” titles and are top officials of a family-run group of companies, were arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over an ongoing probe into a land deal between a group of settlers and the Great Alonioners Trading Corporation Bhd (Gatco).

The suspects, who are aged 54 and 58, were picked up by MACC officers in separate operations. Also arrested was the 68-year-old accountant who, in his capacity as a liquidator, had detailed knowledge of the land deal. Five days later, they were released without charge and it was business as usual.

On March 7 – less than a week after allegations were made, the MACC cleared UMNO supreme council member Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim of allegations that he had received an RM3 million bribe to help ‘cover up’ a probe into the Penang undersea tunnel project.

Azam (photo) said the Commission’s investigation showed no evidence of Abdul Azeez’s involvement in the matter, and that the accusations were deemed as ‘baseless.’ He added that the commission had retrieved documents to assist in its investigation and its subsequent probe had cleared Abdul Azeez.

“Based on our investigations, Abdul Azeez did not have any direct links to the Penang undersea tunnel project or those closely related to the project’s construction. MACC has verified the documents gathered pertaining to the case, before arriving at the decision,” Azam said.

These three contrasting scenarios are telling indeed and offer a glimpse of how the MACC treats offences and offenders. The public exoneration of Abdul Azeez shows how efficiently and speedily it can “close” a case and why it takes sometimes months to even years to produce the offenders in court or publicly absolve them of any wrongdoing.

Gatco case: No corrupt dealing

In the Gatco case, the MACC, after holding the trio for five days, found that the sale of the land was done in accordance with the law and there was no corrupt dealing, that the land was sold in an auction. Subsequently, even the courts deemed that nothing sinister or illegal was done.

How many of those arrested by the MACC have been accorded the same treatment given to Abdul Azeez? How many people have been publicly exculpated after being arrested and detained? How many people have been photographed in the orange suit, only to be released without charges?

Our law enforcement agencies, especially the police and the MACC have often lamented that the people are not coming forward with information on criminal activities. No one should blame them because of the different rules being applied, based on the position and status of the accused person.

Why should one come forward with information when he or she knows that the case would be classified as NFA (No Further Action)? Why should one bother when some people are immune from prosecution, let alone be arrested for purposes of investigations?


Without accusing or insinuating that there has been wrongdoing on the part of Abdul Azeez (photo) or anyone else, this whole case is shrouded with an air of mystery and leaves a bad taste in the mouth. When someone sends a demand letter, what is expected is a reply. For all intent and purpose, it was a civil case, where one party is demanding the return of monies paid. There’s nothing criminal about this transaction. Instead, Abdul Azeez lodged a police report on the demand of RM3 million which Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd had supposedly paid as consultancy fees.

Abdul Azeez denied ever having any dealings with the company – the special purpose vehicle (SPV) of the mega Penang undersea tunnel project – or its Senior Executive Director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli.

Both Zenith and Zarul Ahmad have avoided the media and we have to take Azeez’s word that Zenith has apologised. Then, a very important question arises: “If Abdul Azeez claims someone used his name and Zenith had apologised, why in the first did the company send a demand notice without verifying facts?”

Hopefully, we don’t have to wait long. The Penang State Secretary has written to Zenith seeking explanation on the course of events that had taken place. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, too, wants the truth from the horse’s mouth. This report should be put in public domain for the rakyat to decide who was wrong and who was right. Is that asking too much?

R NADESWARAN has worked with the MACC and its predecessor, the Anti-Corruption Agency for more than 30 years. He also served on MACC’s advisory board two years ago. Comments:

Greg Lopez on Corruption

March 8, 2018

Greg Lopez on Corruption

by Greg Lopez*

Image result for Greg Lopez
*Greg Lopez is a lecturer at Murdoch University Executive Education Centre. He is interested in the links between individual agency, governance, economic growth and political stability.

The first article identified 18 different terms (from World Bank publications) that are confused or used interchangeably with corruption.

In the first instance, let us explore how corruption is linked to these other terms. It may help explain why the terms are often confused or used interchangeably.

 The Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) is an independent unit within the World Bank Group that investigates and pursues sanctions related to allegations of fraud and corruption in World Bank Group-financed projects.

The INT’s scope of work is fraud and corruption but also included is collusion, coercion and obstruction (see first article for these descriptions).

Stated differently, in INT’s definition, corruption will potentially also involve fraud, collusion, coercion and obstruction.

Image result for Najib Razak and CorruptionMaybe, but you are the most corrupt Prime Minister in Malaysia’s History. Looting the National Treasury is a Breach of Trust. It is embezzlement.


In Tina Soreide’s (2014) World Bank study titled, “Drivers of Corruption — A Brief Review”, she states that ‘corruption takes a variety of forms’, and proceeds to list them as follows: crony capitalism, embezzlement, extortion/extortive corruption, facilitation payments, kickback, kleptocracy, lobbyism/campaign finance, patronage, queue corruption, regulatory capture, rent-seeing, and state capture (the descriptions are provided in the first article).

In Soreide’s (2014) approach, there are at least 13 different ways within which corruption can take place.

If there are 18 different ways to describe corruption or corrupt acts — with some of it being legal and others, not — what exactly is corruption?

Exploring the essence of corruption

The literature on corruption indicates that the concept of corruption is as old as civilisation — indicating clearly, its persistence.

Image result for Syed Hussein Al-Attas on Corruption

Syed Hussein Alatas (1999) in his book, Corruption and the Destiny of Asia provides among many analysis, an informative analysis of corruption through the ages.

Image result for Syed Hussein Al-Attas on Corruption

Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas  and Cuba’s Dr. Fidel Castro

In analysing the Chinese reformer Wang An Shih (1021-86 AD), Alatas noted that, “…in his [Wang An Shih] attempt to eliminate corruption, [he] was astounded by two ever-recurrent sources of corruption: bad laws and bad men.”

In analysing the Islamic scholar Abdul Rahman Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406 AD), Alatas stated that Ibn Khaldun considered the root cause of corruption to be the passion for luxurious living within the ruling group. It was to meet the cost of luxurious living that the ruling group resorted to corrupt dealings.

Kautilya, a key advisor to Chandragupta Maurya (c 317-293 BCE) writing in his book Arthasastra, identified corruption as a human condition.

Humans, Kautilya noted, were fickle and that no virtue such as integrity and honesty would remain consistent. While not using the human condition to justify corruption, Kautilya proposed elaborate and extreme sets of measures to weed corruption out of government — referring specifically to leaders tasked with running the government such as tax collection, implementing various government regulations, etc (T. Kumar, 2012) [pdf].

Maryvonne Genaux (2004) in her exploration of corruptio, the Latin term from which the word corruption originates, concludes that, “Ultimately, [the word] ‘corruption’ can be said to have Biblical origins and a core meaning centred around injustice.”

Genaux notes that these “injustice” was perpetrated by those in power or with authority (kings, judges, magistrates, etc.) against those who relied on their leadership/judgements/decisions (e.g. subjects, citizens).

The review above suggests that the essence of corruption (which covers all different types of corrupt act), is an “unjust act” committed by those “in/with power” (the powerful) against those “with less power” (the powerless) for the benefit of the powerful because it is within human nature to act in such manner.

What do you think of this description of corruption?



In search of academic antidote to Bullshitism

July 25, 2017

In search of academic antidote to  Bullshitism–From Plato and Aristotle to Descartes to Hume

by Dean Johns

A couple of semesters ago, sick of inflicting pain on my brain for what seemed diminishing gain, I took a break from my Sydney University course with little or no intention of ever resuming it.

As I recall thinking at the time, I was too old and tired to ever hope to achieve more than the ‘little learning’ that Alexander Pope proverbially deplored as a ‘dangerous thing’, let alone to aspire to the paradoxical Socratic ideal of knowing so much as to know only that I knew nothing.

But at least, or so I consoled myself, the part of my degree that I’d completed had equipped me with enough skepticism to last me the rest of my life.

Every successive unit I’d done of Gender Studies had even further confirmed my initial suspicion that, however productively thought-provoking this course may have been in many ways, it was far too polemical if not outright propagandist to be considered properly or in other words open-mindedly academic.

And my admittedly limited expeditions into Philosophy had been similarly disconcerting, revealing as they did that, as Descartes (1596-1620) both declared and in my humble opinion amply demonstrated in his own work, ‘there is nothing so strange or so unbelievable that it has not been said by one philosopher or another’.

Even Plato, the philosopher that many consider the greatest of them all, at least in the Western tradition, deviated at times from truth-seeking philosophy into the false sophistry he otherwise claimed to deplore and despise, as in his advocacy of the so-called ‘Noble Lie’ that people were born with divinely-determined roles in society, and that ‘justice’ decreed that they remain in these roles under the rule of a class of ‘Philosopher Kings’ in his purportedly utopian ‘Republic’.

And Plato’s almost equally-esteemed pupil Aristotle, famously, or rather infamously, made the outrageous and utterly unsupported statement in his otherwise largely admirable Nicomachean Ethics that Greeks are superior to non-Greeks, and men superior to women and slaves.

For all their faults, however, Plato, Aristotle and most other philosophers both Western and Eastern have been rank amateurs when it comes to inventing lies, be they ‘noble’, ignoble or downright evil, compared with power-freaks with not a thought in their heads but to seize and hold power over as many of the ‘common’ people as possible.

And thus it behoves all of us, Greeks, non-Greeks, men and women alike, to refuse to be treated by such misleaders as slaves, or else a ‘silent majority’ of passive ‘citizens’, but as highly vocal and active critizens devoted to exposing and rejecting their lies.

A thought that leads me to my rationale for deciding to subject myself to yet another dose of academia, the lure of a Philosophy unit at Sydney University, code number PHIL2642, called Critical Thinking.

This, according to its description in the Arts Faculty Handbook, is ‘an introduction to critical thinking and analysis of the argument. By examining arguments drawn from diverse sources, including journalism, advertising, science, medicine, history, economics, and politics, we will learn how to distinguish good from bad arguments, and how to construct rationally persuasive arguments of our own.

Along the way, we will grapple with skepticism, conspiracy theories, and pseudoscience. The reasoning skills imparted by this unit make it invaluable not only for philosophy students but for every student at the university.’

And also, as I said earlier, for every citizen who prefers ‘critizenship’ to enslavement.

Let me not get too carried away with my expectations for this Critical Thinking unit, however. One fundamental problem with it that you were doubtless way ahead of me in spotting, is that, like most philosophy, it focuses on ‘rationally’ rather than emotionally persuasive arguments.

Image result for donald trump and the simpsons


As if David Hume (1711-1776) hadn’t centuries ago made it clear, as if it wasn’t always so, that ‘reason is the slave of the passions’. A truth that must be grimly self-evident to anyone who has imagined, let alone actually tried, rationally arguing against the passionately-expressed but patently false emotings of US President Donald Trump, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak or any of his mendacious paid mouthpieces, or the ravings of any of the world’s countless other misleaders.

And not only are these peoples’ statements a pack of rationally-unarguable irrational lies, but many of the individual words they use are riddled with falsehood.

Is there any way of rationally comprehending, let alone of rationally countering, whatever Trump might possibly mean by claiming his intention to make American ‘great’ again?

Admittedly the ‘again’ bit is rationally arguable, at least by those of us who recall such gruesome lapses of the US from greatness as, for example, the Vietnam War that cost President Lyndon Johnson his promised ‘Great Society’; the catastrophic levels of gun ownership that continually cost the country many times more casualties than terrorism or even wars; the shocking rates of poverty in the world’s richest country; and imprisonment rates that would be a disgrace to a totalitarian state like China, or, more accurately Chaina, let alone to the alleged ‘Land of the Free’.

But ‘great’? The only response Trump’s utterance of this word evokes in me is the urge to lampoon it by pretending to hear and read it as ‘grate’.

Image result for najib razak's spin doctors

As in yes, Trump sure does grate on me, to a truly great extent, in much the same way as Najib Abdul Razak of Malaysia does with his mindlessly mendacious employment of the word ‘one’, as in his ‘1Malaysia’, whatever it supposedly signifies, and everything else he says and does. But the very idea of dealing rationally with the verbal vomit such people constantly spew forth, and that their venal, vapid or utterly vacant supporters so eagerly lap-up, seems ridiculous to me.

I could be mistaken, however, and in fact, I hope I am, and that PHIL2642 Critical Thinking may well prove a very pleasant surprise.

In case not, however, I’ve enrolled in a backup dose of academia in the form of ANTH2653, partly because the lecturer is one of my favourites from way back, and also because Anthropology is a welcome change from the Eurocentricity of most other Western university disciplines.

Plus, into the bargain, this particular unit promises to provide me with lots of rational arguments, both rational and even perhaps otherwise, against one of my other personal pet hates besides political lying and criminality: the further elevation of greed over need and thus the rich over the rest, or in other words neo-liberalism.


MACC is serious about combating Corruption in BolehLand?

May 9, 2017

COMMENT: I always enjoy reading TK Chua’s plain speaking articles and have often featured them on my globally read blog. I thank for hosting them and my friend Nelson Fernandez for allowing me to use them. Mr. Chua never fails to call a spade nothing but spade. But this is something else

Image result for Justice Harun Hashim

The last of the Anti-Corruption Mohicans was the late Justice Tan Sri Dato’ Harun Hashim. He was competent, fearless and very professional. He had no regard for politicians because he was a public servant par excellence and an outstanding member of our Judiciary who served King and country with dignity and distinction.

Today, most of our civil servants starting from the top are apple polishers who are out to suck up to politicians in power. The manner in which the 1MDB scandal was handled is my case in point.  The Auditor- General, the Attorney-General and others  let us down. They did not have the conviction and courage to do what is right.

Yes, Mr. Chua, I note you used the word “resolve” in quotes. The present MACC Chief Commissioner is the new broom. I am not optimistic about what the Chief Commissioner can do to refashion the organisation, even with the benefit of the advice and wisdom of  former  UN Kofi Annan’s ethics crusader Tunku Abdul Aziz.

Image result for Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission

Remember his predecessor, Tan Sri Abu Kassim.  Abu Kassim promised a lot but failed to do his duty faithfully.  Why? Because  there is no political will to fight corruption. After all, our Prime Minister himself is corrupt and worse still, he is incompetent.–Din Merican

MACC is serious about combating Corruption in BolehLand?

by TK

I want to support the Chief of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in his “resolve” to make the anti-graft agency more respectable in combating corruption in the country.

However, I would like to comment on some of his statements. First, one swallow does not a summer make. The arrest of a Tan Sri here and a Datuk Seri there does not signify that the MACC has become bold to “venture” into the turf of the rich and powerful.

I have seen enough of many agencies having the tendency to indulge in the “flash in the pan” syndrome. They do things to impress, not with the enduring objective to solve a problem at hand.

Image result for Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Chief Commissioner

The New Broom at The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC)

Efforts against corruption must be relentless, imminent and without fear or favour. When too many perceive that the rich and powerful are being protected, usually it is because such a view has some semblance of truth to it.

To prove otherwise requires efforts more than arresting a Tan Sri or a Datuk Seri. A Tan Sri trying to broker a royal title is very different from other Tan Sris in charge of millions in government funds.

Persistence and being resolute are key to curbing corruption. The rich and the powerful have become bold and blatant in their deviant ways because they perceive the likelihood of being hauled up, too slim.

Most of us are creatures of greed. Given an opportunity, many would abuse the law and enrich themselves. But if the consequence of our corrupt practices is clear and imminent, I think many would think twice before committing it.

Another point the MACC chief mentioned was the lack of personnel and funding in combating corruption. According to him, the MACC has only 1,900 enforcement officers whereas there are 1.6 million civil servants to be monitored. Please forgive me for being harsh, I just find this excuse so typical of most government agencies.

No organisation, including the MACC, has unlimited resources to play with. Ultimately it is always the 80-20 rule and the need to prioritise.

Certainly not all the 1.6 million civil servants have the same opportunity to be involved in bribery. The MACC ought to know the departments and the agencies that are more prone to corruption.

This is where priority and concentration come in – MACC’s should focus on the 20% to give them the 80% result.

If the MACC chief knows that RM5 million is paid each month by syndicates to foil enforcement actions, it shows that corruption has become institutionalised and endemic. More than that, it shows that corruption is now a retainer.

If he knows the amount paid each month, he ought to know the personnel and the agencies involved.

By the way, it is quite illogical to assert that MACC’s action against corrupt politicians just prior to the next general election is considered as indulging in politicking. On the contrary, it is the lack of action that has given rise to the impression that the MACC is not above the politicians.

Action should be rightly based on offences committed and evidence adduced, nothing else matters.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

Najib’s Bailout by China comes at a price to Malaysia

November 7, 2016

Najib’s Bailout by China comes at a price to Malaysia

by Dr.M. Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill,  California

Image result for najib sells malaysia to china

Embracing China for Political Survival

With Prime Minister Najib Razak dancing with the Chinese dragon, it is worth reminding him and his admirers that dragons have no dance partners, only prey.

Najib is using the old and dangerous game of playing the major powers against each other. During his latest visit to Beijing he railed against the Americans for lecturing him on lapses in his leadership, specifically his corruption and trampling on his fellow citizens’ human rights. Najib then went on to poke America’s eyes by putting out a joint declaration with his Chinese counterpart calling for no outside interference in the brewing South China Sea crisis.

Image result for Najib golfs with Obama

Only the deluded would believe that Najib had an equal or any say in that joint communique. His only contribution was to agree. Najib was there to beg China to bail out his 1MDB, as well as to borrow money. Beggars don’t get to choose.

The world is full of tragic examples of once stable nations now in tatters because their leaders thought they were smart or adroit enough to play one world power against the other. Egypt’s Nasser had the Russians finance his ambitious Aswan Dam, and banked on them to help Egypt against Israel. The humiliation of the Six Day War still haunts the Egyptians. His successor Anwar Sadat reversed course and cozied up to America, and in the process won the approval of the ultimate values gatekeeper of the West, the Nobel Committee, which awarded him the Peace Prize. At least Sadat brought peace to his people, albeit only too briefly. Egyptians today are still being whipsawed from one extreme to the other.

In dealing with others, local or foreign, small or great powers, we must be guided by our internal compass, our values. Those others may or may not share our qiblat. We have for example, no desire to emulate China on how it treats its minorities or dissidents. Nor does Malaysia wish to be treated like Tibet or China’s western Muslim provinces. Although I must admit that at times I wish Malaysia would adopt China’s treatment of its corrupt officials.

Image result for Najib does business withChina

I am reminded of the rich towkay in a Malay village, charitable to his customers, extending them easy credit. Soon he owned the entire village. As we Malays say, Menang sorak, kampung tergadia (win the applause but mortgage the village).–M. Bakri Musa

Najib thinks that he looks elegant and puffed up dancing with the Chinese dragon. To me, he is more the painted lady on the dance floor of a Vegas whorehouse. We know who is paying for Najib’s services, on the dance floor and afterwards. Najib is paid well to act like an equal and enthusiastic partner, but we know what his role really is, as well as his price tag.

It is well  over RM140 billion. Regardless, a high-priced hooker is still a hooker.Najib would like us to believe that China is investing in Malaysia, and he has convinced many. The reality is that Malaysia is borrowing those hundreds of billions. That money has to be repaid. The only positive aspect is that some of the money would be for financing infrastructures like the East Coast Rail and Trans Sabah Gas Pipeline, not for skyscrapers and fancy headquarters for civil servants.

Image result for 1MDB Assets sold to China

Left unanswered however, is how much those projects would have cost had there been competitive international bidding. Nor do we know the financing terms. The 1MDB bonds cost several hundred basis points above the prevailing rates. Another unknown is how much of the Chinese money would be shifted to Najib’s personal account a la the Saudi investor and 1MDB, in gratitude for Najib’s ‘leadership?’

Beijing was generous to Najib. I am reminded of the rich towkay in a Malay village, charitable to his customers, extending them easy credit. Soon he owned the entire village. As we Malays say, Menang sorak, kampung tergadia (win the applause but mortgage the village).

China is an important country, quite apart from it being Malaysia’s biggest trading partner and sharing an extensive and contested maritime border. That relationship should be based on mutual respect and in accordance with international laws and norms, acknowledging that China is a major power while Malaysia isn’t. Being deeply in hock to China is not a good start to that kind of relationship.

The sparkle of Najib’s golf soiree with President Obama in Hawaii during Christmas of 2014 was short-lived, eclipsed by the blasting Malaysian sun. Najib is discovering to his sorrow that America has robust independent institutions. You may be Obama’s golfing partner, but if you indulge in illicit activities, its media will expose you and the Attorney-General will prosecute you. Malaysian officials may be bought with cheap titles and trinkets, not so America’s.

The Malaysian media is Najib’s lapdog, not so foreign ones or local social media. Thanks to the Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and others, Najib is being subjected to unaccustomed scrutiny. Local alternate media amplify and extend the reach of those foreign news sources to average Malaysians.

There are a few certainties to Najib’s leadership. One, it will end. As for when, how and under what circumstances, the bomohs have as much credibility as the experts. With his echo chambers well amplified, Najib feels invincible. So did Saddam and Gaddafi not too long ago; they were even more ruthless and in power far longer than Najib. Two, the massive debts through 1MDB and now the Chinese loans incurred by Najib will burden Malaysians for generations. Three, Najib’s rank corruption. Regardless of the outcome of the current US Department of Justice’s 1MDB asset forfeiture lawsuit, it has already put a black mark on Malaysia.

Image result for Malaysia's national debt

Najib’s future does not interest me. As for the debt load, at least that is quantifiable; not so the soiling of Malaysia’s name. The plastic glitter of Najib dancing with the dragon star, like his earlier soiree with Obama, will also be short-lived. The dragon will not be denied its prey. Najib, and Malaysians, may yet feel the true impact of a tsunami, the Chinese version.

Congrats UNESCO and Irina Bokova for being sensitive and smart

September 21, 2016

Rosmah Mansor, the first lady of Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur, the capital, last month. She is known for her lavish spending on luxury items like Hermès Birkin bags.CHRIS JUNG / NURPHOTO, VIA GETTY IMAGES

Congrats UNESCO and  Irina Bokova for being sensitive and smart

By Louise Story

The event, to be held Thursday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, honors people and groups that have fought extremism. Among the scheduled honorees wasPermata, a Malaysian children’s organization that was founded several years ago under the auspices of Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the Malaysian Prime minister,Najib Razak.

Image result for The Ugly Rosmah Mansor

Malaysia’s Beauty Queen and Model with her corrupt Prime Minister Husband

Ms. Rosmah is known for her lavish spending on luxury items like Hermès Birkin bags.

The couple’s family and close friends are at the center of a Justice Department lawsuit claiming that $1 billion in assets — including a $30.6 million penthouse at the Time Warner Center in New York and a $39 million mansion in the Los Angeles hills — were bought with money stolen from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, called 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB.

A statement on Sunday from Tudor Parfitt, a scholar involved in the event, confirmed that the honor had been withdrawn.

The statement said that questions had been raised about the sources of Permata’s funding, and that although the event organizers were not aware of any specific wrongdoing, they did not have time to vet the organization.

The event is co-hosted by the head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. Ms. Bokova is running to be secretary general of the United Nations, so her actions are also being closely scrutinized.