Monday, October 10, 2016

Do not ignore the man on the street

Nazir Razak of CIMB should learn that the well connected has cushions when 1MDB scandal happened, but not the whole nation.

By Mariam Mokhtar

The CIMB chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak was upset when he had been dragged into the 1MDB controversy. Just think how much more upsetting it is, for the 30 million Malaysians, who are now suffering because of that particular scandal.
Money which could have been diverted to projects, like the education fund to send students overseas, and cleaning up polluted rivers, or infrastructure projects, like building rural schools for the Orang Asli.

1MDB used up the taxpayers' money. This money has been frittered away and no-one has admitted responsibility, nor been made accountable. If Nazir is upset, he should try putting himself in our shoes.

No-one knows what the modus operandi or work ethics of those involved in the 1MDB scandal are. Friends who work as managers for CIMB or other banks, claim that at the end of the month, they have to do overtime, and account for every sen of the money which passes through the department's hands. If one sen is missing, no-one goes home, till that one sen has been accounted for. We have a few billion missing, and the government of the day, continues as normal.

Isn't it shocking that the US$7 million,  which Nazir helped to distribute to political parties, on behalf of his brother, was speedily approved by the banking regulators.

A friend, who had saved up for years, to take his family of five, for a once-in-a-lifetime four week holiday, across several European cities, was given a hard time by the banking regulators in England. They imagined that he was laundering money. The sum involved was a paltry £7k. It was nowhere near the USD7 million which Nazir had disbursed. There are very different systems of checks and balances, in the east and the west.

The CIMB chairman claimed that 1MDB has made it harder to represent Malaysia, as a business destination on the world arena. Strange how people at the top appear to react, only when things get to a state of no-return.

Malaysians at the bottom rung of the ladder, may not have a clue about 1MDB, or its impact on their lives, but they are crippled by rising costs, because the shortfall created by 1MDB, which would have been used to fund government projects is nowhere to be found.

Nazir said that the impact of the 1MDB on Malaysia, at the international level, was "quite damaging".

That's part of the problem, isn't it? We only look at a particular issue, because the foreigners have said something. This only reinforces the belief that governments do not listen to their own people. If governments are bad, the senior politicians in the ruling party, are just as culpable.

The Opposition flagged the 1MDB issue as early as 2010. Nothing happened. In the intervening years, more exposes on 1MDB have been made. All were dismissed.

Influential men like Nazir, who are connected to the top, through personal or professional ties, said nothing. That is the culture we have, in Malaysia - to ignore the local, but to kow-two to the foreigners, because they are in charge of loads of money.

We may not be privy to what goes on in 1MDB circles, and think that our lives may not be affected by 1MDB. Sadly, it does have a profound impact on us.

When the MO1 rally took place, the Red-Shirts said they would stage a counter rally. A similar threat to counter Bersih, has also been made. The Red Shirts are protecting those behind 1MDB, and they have the potential to cause chaos. Chaos is not good for business. Chaos may also affect foreign exchange.

Let this be a lesson to those in government and the influential people in Malaysia. Don't ignore the man in the street and dismiss his concerns. Well connected people often don't see the harmful effects of the nation's troubles. They think they know better. Start listening to our voices, much earlier, instead of waiting until it is too late. 

~ The Heat Malaysia

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