Incongruences, inconsistencies and incompetence in Malaysia’s governance matrix

There is no shortage of incongruences, inconsistencies, and incompetence in the matrix of Malaysian governance.

One glaring incongruence is the concept of the rule of law, that justice is blind to status, lineage, ethnicity, and religion. No one is above the law. However, the application of justice is not always consonant with the principles of the rule of law.

This is most glaring in the case of Umno politicians, especially that of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has been convicted and is appealing his 12-year jail term and fine of RM200 million.

He still maintains his MP status, struts around like he is still in power, and positions himself as an elder statesman, lecturing about good governance and integrity in Parliament.

To add to this incongruence, is the privilege to travel overseas extended to Najib, when his movements should be restricted and monitored. But he is accorded special privilege in getting back his passport to travel to Singapore to visit his daughter, who had just given birth.

Likewise, his wife, who is also facing corruption charges, was also earlier accorded this special privilege to travel to Singapore to supervise her daughter’s delivery.

In addition to these privileges, Najib is allowed to campaign in the upcoming Melaka state elections, to woo voters to vote for the upright, moral, and corrupt-free politicians that would champion the peoples’ rights and well-being.

This is mockery and hypocrisy of the highest order. Najib and his son are also charged with tax evasion of RM1.6 billion, and over RM30 million, respectively. The common man, in such a situation but with much less tax default, would have already been incarcerated.

Then, there is Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is facing 47 charges, including for corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering. He was granted permission by the courts to travel to Germany to seek medical treatment for back pains, a medical problem that could easily be treated in Malaysia.

The judges also granted the same privilege to Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah, who is facing money laundering charges. Shafee is now in New York to enrol his son in an institute of higher learning.

The common man would not have been given such consideration.

The scale of justice seems to have assumed an asymmetrical position.

It would seem that these political elites are the favoured sons and daughters of the ‘Malaysian Family’ concept espoused by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The rest of the family unit are the supporting members that submit to the dictates, and service the needs of the favoured ones, while they themselves are consigned to a nondescript position.

Another incongruence is the breaching of ministerial jurisdiction.

Just recently, the Foreign Minister announced that Wisma Putra would be setting up an Arts and Cultural Diplomacy unit to promote Malaysian arts and culture.

To this end, the minister appointed Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri, the former chief executive officer of the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) as the secretary, and Datuk Seri Eizlan Yusof as creative consultant.

Normally, the promotion of the country’s arts and culture – locally and internationally – is under the purview of the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.

The ministry had been doing just that, since its inception, through performances and exhibitions at local and international arts festivals.

At the same time, Tourism Malaysia’s offices in the major capitals of the world, such as London, Paris, and Tokyo, have made arts and culture a major part of their promotional campaigns.

The ministry has also balanced the promotion of culture and the arts with the more ‘intellectual’ side of the business, by organising and participating in conferences and seminars, both locally and internationally.

What is the real objective in the setting up of this Arts and Culture Diplomacy unit in Wisma Putra, staffed by run-of-the-mill personnel, instead of bona fide arts and culture experts, who are serving officers in the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry?

If the objective was to train and deploy cultural attachés to all our foreign embassies, would it not be more practical and cost-efficient to liaise with the ministry, which could then place their trained officers on secondment, just for that purpose, instead of duplicating this function?

This is a prime example of not putting qualified people on the job, besides wantonly wasting public funds.

Another example of incompetent leadership was Malaysia’s inability to send a ministerial representative to the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Environment and Water Minister, Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man from Pas appears unqualified to handle environmental issues such as global warming and the depletion of water resources, and therefore, would not be able to contribute to discussions at the conference, which was conducted in English, although translations were available.

Instead, the ministry’s capable and adroit secretary-general, Datuk Seri Zaini Ujang, a scientist and former vice-chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, headed the Malaysian delegation to the conference.

It would have been appropriate if our prime minister had attended the conference with the other heads of state, not only to impress upon the delegates of Malaysia’s commitment in combating the carbon footprint, but also to establish networking.

Alas, the prime minister had other priorities, rather than to engage in a conference to address the single biggest threat to the survival of our planet.

Another recurring problem is the attitude of MPs and politicians who switched allegiances to serve their own political agenda, under the guise of “serving the people”.

The people have long been used as scapegoats to advance partisan and personal agendas.

The current political turmoil in Melaka was the result of four Umno and Bersatu assemblymen withdrawing their support from the state government, causing it to collapse. Of course, this was done “to better serve the people”.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin did the same when he pulled the rug out from under the mandated Pakatan Harapan government, causing it to collapse. The same reasoning was advanced when 15 Umno MPs withdrew support from Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional government.

In Sabah, the seasonal political circus of party-hopping and changing allegiance is fast gaining momentum, as one state assemblyman and an MP, have switched allegiance, in the name of serving the people better.

There is no political will to reform these incongruences and inconsistencies in governance because such a political culture of systemic deception favours the politicians, who could take advantage of the people’s gullibility and ignorance and use them as scapegoats to legitimise their personal and partisan agenda.

The actual stumbling block to reform is the people’s ignorance and gullibility in trusting the politicians, and their willingness to sell their votes for a paltry sum, which perpetuates this political culture of deception and corruption.

For change to happen, the people must actively engage in the country’s political discourse and create a political ecosystem of accountability, integrity, and honesty.

Incompetent and corrupt politicians should be rejected, and those who have overstayed their welcome, should retire. It’s time to select young, new blood who are morally upstanding, suitably qualified, and with integrity.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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