Monday, February 17, 2014

Former CJ: Corruption now wrapped in religious cover


By Zurairi AR
February 15, 2014

People queueing for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's Raya open house August 18, 2013. Hamid  also attributed the spread of bribery to the kenduri and belanja culture practised by Malaysians. — Picture by Choo Choy May
People queueing for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's Raya open house August 18, 2013. Hamid also attributed the spread of bribery to the kenduri and belanja culture practised by Malaysians. - Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — A former chief justice today lamented the insidious spread of corruption in the country, saying that bribery has now corrupted even religious practices.
Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad, who was Malaysia’s most senior judge from November 2007 to October 2008, pointed out that bribes sometimes came disguised as offers to sponsor lavish buka puasa (breaking of fast) ceremonies and umrah, a minor pilgrimage to Mecca.
“Asking for and receiving bribes is no longer something that is done quietly by individuals. It appears to have become an accepted norm and to be shared by all,” Hamid told a packed hall in a forum on corruption here.
“Yet, there is a religious twist to the practice of corruption too … To me, that is corruption of religion.”
In a stinging rebuke, Hamid labelled such practices as “religious money laundering”, “cleansing of haram (forbidden) money”, and “Islamisation of corruption”.
The former judge also attributed the spread of bribery to the kenduri and belanja culture practised by Malaysians.
Kenduri is a Malay word for feasts, usually prepared for guests during ceremonies and festivities such as weddings, religious festivals, and birthdays, while belanja is the term used for treating others to meals as a way to return favours.
“It is not driven by need but something that has become a norm: you want us to do something for you, you should give us something in return,” said Hamid.
“Or, it could simply be the pleasure of getting a free meal, an offshoot of the belanja culture which, in turn, is the offshoot of the kenduri culture, which has now been entrenched as national events on mega scale by both the government and the political parties.”
He also chided civil servants who took bribes for wanting an easy life without hard work and for being greedy by nature.
“They also want things the easy way. That is why they believe in Pak Man Telo and others like him and even in Tuhan Harun,” he said, respectively referring to a infamous get-rich scheme operator in the 1980s and a cult leader who was recently detained by religious authorities.
“If god is your friend, drinking teh tarik with you, what more do you want? Just ask him for whatever you want. That is the mentality.”
Malaysia fights a perennial battle against corruption that has seen it form the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and formalise the country’s efforts against graft as part of Putrajaya’s National Key Results Area for its Government Transformation Programme.
Despite the efforts, however, the country has seen little in terms of progress in the war on graft.
In the recently released Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International, the country came in 53rd in a list of 177 countries or one rung better than it managed before.
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/former-cj-corruption-now-wrapped-in-religious-cover#sthash.7tswS90E.dpuf

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