June 9, 2018
Chris Hedges socks it to Trump
A Scumbag has risen to the highest office in the Land–Chris Hedges
June 9, 2018
April 19, 2018
Malaysians have a crucial task in this upcoming May 9 General Election. They must snatch that dangerous match away from that idiot Najib and his band of mischievous UMNO monkeys. He and they have done enough damage to Malaysia. Stop them before they burn the whole country down.
March 8, 2018
by Greg Lopez*
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 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.
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.
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.
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?
March 7, 2018
by Daniel B. Shapiro
It was always folly that Jared Kushner, a key example of Trump’s terrible, nepotistic distortion of American government, monopolized the U.S.-Israel relationship. Now he’s going down, how much further will critical decision-making deteriorate?
March 4, 2018
by Joe Pundit
Vote for Change. Joe Pundit explains why he has no other option but to give opposition parties a chance.
Malaysians will go to the polls soon.The 2018 general election will be a significant one in the country’s history: for the first time the Opposition will be led by a former prime minister. Like many of my fellow Malaysians, I have pondered over whom to vote for.
Join South Africans and Zimbabweans who have removed Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe (and Grace Mugabe), so why keep Najib Razak (and Rosmah Mansor) and his band of UMNO-BN thieves. Wake Up, Malays.
I have decided that I will vote for change. I will be voting for the coalition led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the following reasons:
That we need a change is an option-less choice for me. If Malaysia is to evolve into a mature democracy, we need to have a two-party system.
Our present electoral system has to be changed and we should adopt a more democratic system based on proportional representation. There is too much gerrymandering when parliamentary constituencies are created and boundaries redrawn.
Only under a proportionaly representation system will the majority voices of the people be heard. In the 2013 general election, the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, won 51% of the popular vote but could not form the government under the present first-past-the-post system.
Like in respected democracies, many Malaysians would like to see the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee coming from the Opposition and not the ruling party.
Rising cost of living
The escalating cost of living has hit the working and middle classes in Malaysia. Like many Malaysians, I am totally against the goods and services tax (GST) as it is painful towards those less well off. Taxes should always be discriminatory and not non-discriminatory.
Lagging education system and unemployment
The education system needs to be further improved and it should be free of charge for all Malaysians till university. The command of written and spoken English is abysmal among the younger generation. The education system needs to be completely revamped.
The current government is not doing enough to tackle the problem of unemployment. Thousands of graduates are unemployed and many have to resort to driving Uber and Grab for a living.
Lack of affordable housing and security
Prices of houses and apartments in many parts of the country have soared beyond the reach of the middle class and the working class.
The crime rate is still high as seen by the increase in gated communities in the country.
Ethnic polarisation and religious bigotry
Malaysians are also concerned about worsening ethnic polarisation and religious bigotry. The BN does not appear to be doing anything concrete to tackle this phenomenon, which is threatening the very fabric of our society.
Lack of consistent people-oriented measures
The government should assist the people on a daily basis – and not just occasionally through Brim. I believe genuine assistance will be provided to the people under an opposition-led government.
Many Malaysians are of the view that an opposition-led government will implement more people-oriented measures eg a RM100 season ticket providing unlimited travel for commuters.
With an opposition-led government, we have a chance of moving towards a more egalitarian society – and the more we move in this direction the better for the people.
Many serious issues that have surfaced since the 2013 general election such as 1MDB, FELDA Global Ventures and Mara’s purchase of property in Australia have raised critical questions that remain unanswered. No satisfactory explanation has been given by the government and no one at the top has been made accountable for these financial transgressions.
The level of corruption in the country is of deep concern to many Malaysians like me. Malaysia’s ranking fell sharply from 54th to 62nd position in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2017. Many feel that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is not doing enough to combat corruption: it has to be made totally independent, reporting directly to Parliament.
Many Malaysians believe we should have an independent civil service without political interference. There is so much of wastage of public funds: just look at the number of civil servants, officials and others accompanying the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers on each overseas trip.
All tenders for all public projects should be transparent, and the tender committees for all major projects should comprise top civil servants and MPs from both sides of the political divide.
The mainstream print and electronic media are unfair to the people. Hardly impartial, they serve as propaganda machinery for the ruling coalition. While we may or we may not agree with all of Mahathir and the Opposition’s policies and views, we would like them to be given space to express their views in the mainstream print and electronic media.
Malaysians must be given the chance to listen to live debates between the government and the opposition on television and radio ahead of the election. Only after listening to both sides will Malaysians be in a better positioned to make a choice.
By denying us the right to listen to both sides of the story, the government is telling us we unable to think rationally or vote wisely – which is an insult to the intelligence of Malaysians.
The BN has failed to introduce sweeping much-needed reforms in the country.
Malaysians will expect an opposition-led government to implement reforms in all major institutions such as the Electoral Commission, the civil service, the judiciary, and the armed forces so that institutions will remain independent of the government of the day. These institutions should only report to the King and Parliament.
Given the wealth and natural resources in our country, Malaysians deserve a better deal.
If opposition parties are elected to power and they fail to improve the political and socio-economic environment in the country, then I would be inclined to vote for the BN in the election after next.
Joe Pundit is the pseudonym of a keen political observer based in Kuala Lumpur.
March 3, 2018
If Barack Obama had displayed such cavalier disregard for previous policy positions and total ignorance of basic facts, we’d be in the middle of Civil War II. Trump barely gets a shrug
The ceaseless barrage of news — both real and fake — from the Trump administration can be numbing, so it’s important to step back every once in a while and look at the big picture: Never have we seen such utter chaos and blatant corruption.
None of what’s happening is normal and none of it should be acceptable. Life is imitating art: What we have is less a presidency than a cheesy reality show, set in a great stately house, with made-for-television histrionics, constant backstabbing and major characters periodically getting booted out.
Hope Hicks–The Pretty Woman in The White House–Resigns her post
Hope Hicks, the White House Communications Director, decided Wednesday to self-eject. Was it because she spent the previous day testifying on Capitol Hill, and was forced to admit having told “white lies” for President Trump? Was it because the man she had been dating, Rob Porter, lost his important White House position when The Daily Mail revealed he faced multiple allegations of wife-beating? Or was Hicks simply exhausted?
Porter’s job involved controlling the flow of paperwork, some of it classified and extremely sensitive, to the President. Because of those abuse allegations, however, he couldn’t get a permanent top-secret security clearance. That was bad enough, but later we learned that dozens of White House officials, perhaps 100 or more, were working with only interim clearances, not permanent ones. Their access to secret information was cut off by Chief of Staff John Kelly — but only after all of this had become public.
Among those now with limited access is Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whose heavily indebted real estate empire and grudging disclosure of his many foreign contacts worried FBI investigators. Kushner is a senior adviser to the president whose many assignments include forging peace in the Middle East — but who now is not cleared for documents or meetings that discuss what’s really happening in the Middle East or anywhere else. So why is he still there?
Why was he there in the first place? Because of Trump’s appalling nepotism.
Trump also brought his daughter Ivanka into the White House as an adviser. What does she do? What qualifies her to do it? In a real administration, conservative or liberal, Jared’s office and Ivanka’s office would be occupied by experienced professionals who actually know something about diplomacy or administration or some government function.
According to The New York Times, Kushner set up White House meetings for two business executives whose private equity firm and bank later made loans to the Kushner Companies real estate firm totaling more than $500 million. Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” was a cruel joke. He has expanded it into a vast protected wetland, to be enjoyed by friends and family.
Never before have we had a president openly at war with his own attorney general. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s attempts to force Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of his job last summer were part of a pattern of attempted obstruction of justice. According to The Post, Trump’s private name for Sessions is “Mr. Magoo,” a baby-boomer reference that younger readers will have to Google.
Trump began his day Wednesday by tweeting that a decision Sessions recently made was “DISGRACEFUL!” Sessions responded by issuing a statement strongly rebutting Trump’s criticism. And that evening, Sessions was photographed at a posh Washington restaurant dining with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who oversees the Mueller investigation — and Solicitor General Noel Francisco. If it wasn’t a deliberate display of unity at the Justice Department, it sure looked like one.
Also on Wednesday, Trump convened a televised negotiating session with members of Congress on the subject of gun violence. To the escalating horror of Republicans present, he heartily endorsed several Democratic gun control proposals — and then went much further, saying that in the case of individuals who are mentally unstable, authorities should “take the guns first, go through due process second.”
If Barack Obama had ever said such a thing, we’d be in the middle of Civil War II.
Any other president who displayed such cavalier disregard for previous policy positions and total ignorance of basic facts would have provoked an uproar. Trump barely gets a shrug. Nobody expects him to be consistent. Nobody expects him to know anything about anything. He is defining the presidency down in a way that we must not tolerate.
I spent years as a foreign correspondent in Latin America. To say we are being governed like a banana republic is an insult to banana republics. It’s that bad, and no one should pretend otherwise.