Friday, December 10, 2010

MUST-READ: Exposing distortion will not help bring down Taib


Read Iban version: PATUT DIBACHA: Mansut ke jako petenah enda ulih dikena ngelaboh ke Taib.

by Joe Fernandez

Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud's chief political secretary, Abdul Karim Hamzah, tells us nothing new in his distorted take on corruption and abuse of public office for private gain under the guise of "politics of development".

The proxy rulers in Sarawak have been distorting the message, especially among the 70 percent illiterate Ibans in the longhouses, for years.

When the attention of another political secretary to Taib was drawn to Karim's spin, he shot back a text message that simply read: "Ha, ha, ha..." The implication in this cynical response was clear: "Say what you want. We will remain in power."

Something that Karim did not tell the recently-launched Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) is that "the Chinese in Sarawak are jealous of Taib and cannot stand to see a bumiputera like him being rich and successful".

This is the other message that the fat cats around Taib, and the bumiputera sycophants and apologists, keep dinning into the rural population in the state.

If Taib was really corrupt as the opposition keeps claiming, the sycophants and apologists keep telling the people, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) would have gone after him by now.

What they don't tell the people is that the ruling BN needs the 31 parliamentary seats in Sarawak to stay in power as a federal government and thinks that only Taib can deliver them, or at least the majority. So, the MACC and the attorney-general cannot touch Taib even with a 10-foot pole.

Also, what these same sycophants and apologists don't tell the people is that Taib is a proxy of the ruling elite in Putrajaya. This is in line with the notion of ketuanan Melayu, a deliberate Umno misreading of the unwritten social contract.

The unwritten social contract was first put together in 1957 by first Malayan Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman when he persuaded MCA and MIC to agree that "since the Chinese dominate the local economy, the Malays would lead the politics".

Politics of divide and rule

Taib, as a proxy, also has a third role to play: to keep the non-Muslim native majority divided to prevent them taking political power.

Putrajaya's fear is that this majority would want the state to leave the Federation of Malaysia to prevent their eventual disenfranchisement at the hands of the ruling elite.

The bottom line is that Taib has a golden licence, unwritten but implied, to do as he pleases in Sarawak. This is why he has asked Karim to work on a White Paper which will blacklist all non-Sarawakian Malaysian activists from entering the state.

At the same time, the White Paper is designed to prevent Sarawakian activists from leaving the state to "bad mouth the Taib regime" elsewhere in Malaysia or abroad.

If politicians want to be "rich like the businessmen and fly here and there and have holidays abroad", they have no business holding public office.

Taib, being a qualified lawyer, should know what conflict of interest means. Instead, he chooses to pull the wool over the people's eyes in anything to do with the spoils of office and sharing the loot.

There's another dimension to the Taib factor, the fact that the bumiputera community in general, unlike the Chinese, have very little capital and lack access to capital, finance and credit, given the absence of collateral, credit rating or track record.

By and large, they also lack the necessary skills and value systems that go with the art of making money.

So, the politicians have decided that raiding the people's sweat from the public treasury is the only sure-fire way for the bumiputera community - meaning themselves - to accumulate capital in the fastest way possible.

This is the reason why we don't have a system of open and transparent tenders.

Instead, all government tenders, contracts, procurements and supplies are negotiated at twice, thrice and even up to 10 times what they should actually cost the taxpayers.

The huge difference is pocketed by the politicians who award themselves government projects through their nominees.

A minority of the bumiputera, including those denied the spoils of office and a share of the loot, and the great majority of the non-bumiputera, are no longer willing to tolerate the abuses for even a minute longer.

Maggots graft's silent workings

This is at the heart of the politics fuelling the agenda for change and reform of the opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

In the great rural heartland of Sarawak, there's very little understanding of the insidious cancer of corruption that eats away at the very fabric of the nation, drives up the cost of doing business, erodes competitiveness, discourages productivity and indebts the unborn for generations to come.

The widespread attitude is that it's not their money, anyway, so why worry? Basically, this stems from many people being outside the tax bracket.

Many even opine that if they had an opportunity to occupy public office, they would not hesitate to make money for themselves in return for helping the people.

People like Taib capitalise on the situation to make hay while the sun shines, feathering their nests unashamedly while there are any number of Karims around to work the spins for their masters.

In the long run, paying legislators and civil servants better, distributing economic opportunities as widely as possible and amassing the financial resources of the bumiputera masses in a big way for investment purposes are the only ways to tackle the scourge of corruption.

Exposing the distortion of the message will not help bring down the Taib regime.

Neither will the "jealous" syok sendiri (self-induced ecstasy) opposition exposing his corrupt deeds in Sarawak turn the people against his government. Scandal sheets are just so much entertainment.

One way will be for activists in and outside Sarawak to take the issue of Taib's ill-gotten gains to international forums to secure freeze orders from the courts abroad and international arrest warrants against Taib, his family members, government members and his cronies.

In Sarawak, the opposition will have to prove how the ruling party is making the man in the street suffer to the point that the situation has become intolerable.

This is the modus operandi that Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) used in 1985 to successfully crush the mighty Berjaya under Harris Salleh. Angry people will not only register as voters on their own but turn out on polling day.

Likewise, Hindraf successfully galvanised a politically naïve electorate in 2007-08 by raising issues close to the heart of the people.

These included temple demolitions, conversion of Hindus to Islam, Hindu setbacks at the Syariah Court, police brutality against Indian youth and deaths in police custody, the status of the Tamil language and Tamil schools, among others.

No doubt Radio Free Sarawak, broadcasting in Iban and sometimes in Malay, has a vital role to play in the great rural heartland of Sarawak, which is a Republic of Fear dependent on subsidies and suffering from the dependency syndrome.

Much of this country has no access to newspapers, the Internet and mobile phones. The message can still go out via radio services like Radio Free Sarawak - also available via the Internet - which is not controlled by the government.

From Malaysiakini.

1 comment:

babai said...