Friday, January 6, 2012

Media With Teeth....

It used to be TV3 exposing a number of unlawful and camouflaged criminal activities in Malaysia like illegal logging, dredging sand from the river, polluting the river with toxic waste, the viciousness of the Alongs ( illegal money lenders), cheating by Housing Development companies etc.

Now the New Straits Times has joined the rank of whistleblowers with a big exposure of corruption at the borders. Enforcement Officers earning as much as RM50,000 a day on the take and a senior forestry department officer stashing away some RM720,000 in cold cash like dumping paper or plastic bags from the supermarkets.

Amazing. It was not the Police or the MACC per se which smelled out the rotten eggs but the Media, enabling the MACC and the police to swing into action. TV3 used to (and is still doing it, I hope) expose such wrongdoings and cases of poverty which the government officers fail to detect. It makes one wonder what the disciplinary personnel of the law enforcement agencies are doing? MACC has only about 400 officers to smell out and nab the bad eggs while the Police, Custom and Immigration have thousands of them. Yet heavily subsidized goods and foodstuff are smuggled across the border for huge profits.

No wonder why we can see some very rich and wealthy officers responsible for law enforcement flaunting off their fortune around us. While contractors and entrepreneurs risk their neck in trying to curry favors from some of the officers in order to remain in business against tough competition, the border enforcement officers make their pile in complete safety (with their superiors' connivance it seems).

Is "living beyond ones' means" still a valid reason to investigate the finances of a public official nowadays? Yes, an officer can still keep a low profile although he has piles of cash hidden away. But some indiscreet members or the family can still let the cat out of the bag. The question is whether the thief catcher is not himself a thief.
That, I think, can be said for all levels of public servants, including those elected by the public.

And here we are in 2012, trying to become a high-income nation with the government trying to go all out against corruption. Even some of the big sharks have been nabbed. Yet some pegs in the machinery of government itself are collecting the grease. What are the central agencies in government doing?

Shouldn't we have some kind of interdepartmental scouting (if spying is too strong word) and non law enforcement officials encouraged to keep an eye on their uniformed colleagues. The toothless officers can certainly help nab wrongdoers like the Media if given the trust.

Meanwhile we certainly need more public and private media with teeth, not just silver tongue and fat lips to elucidate and eulogize government policies. The public knows the good things government and public officials have done. It's the hidden foul play and syphoning of government revenues that need tracking and exposure so that MACC can take follow-up action, even on the law enforcement officers themselves.


rambomadonna said...

Such a disgrace to the civil service nowadays ... and the culprits are getting younger and younger too.

I recalled a senior officer once said "kita yang penat-penat buat bajet, buat tender, buat itu ini ... yang kaya ... kontraktor jugak" ... I don't see the officer as capable of such things but I guess ... it is always started with that opinion ... which later intensified with high cost of living, the temptation of luxury, envious of others good fortune etc ...

I don't why lah but I always feel that fighting corruption now might be not good for the election (wink wink) ... i dont want to elaborate more!

abdulhalimshah said...

If the political will of our leaders is lacking as seen by their penchant to pander to voters, it is a sign that corruption is being tolerated or even encouraged. No matter how much the numero uno says about fighting corruption, it is in fact matched by actions. With the recent expose of our financial indiscipline by the Auditor-General's report, his ministers themselves are not convinced that they are bleeding the Nation. So much for paying lip service to a heinous crime where those convicted in China are sent to the firing squad. We should follow their example where those guilty for corruption should meet their fate in front of the firing squad.

kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
A body of enforcement personnel is always open to distractions.Given half a chance both sides would succumb as both sides would gain. It would happen when those in charge fail to detect or if they do they fail to take action.There is only so much the MACC (or equivalent) can do. This will go on irrespective of how or how much we lament.

This is not the monopoly of the third world only but even in developed countries it has been seen to have happened! I can't 'offer' solutions to eradicate it (pun intended)


norzah said...

Rambomadonna, so good to have your comment again in the characteristically humorous but sharp observation. Yes, i too have heard some senior officers saying, " we do all the hard work to get the money and the contractors get the fortune." And i have heard contractors saying, " we don't mind sharingnthe profits." So, where does the "share" go to when public officials face certain hell if caught involved in corrupt practices? The answer to that question might explain why you said (with a wink ) that the battle against corruption may not be good for the election. You don't want to elaborate and i feel the same. TST sudahlah, kan?

norzah said...

You certainly would go for a very effective solution to the problem, Akhi Halim, but one which might wipe out just too many senior public officials in both the political and administrative system. When the judiciary itself is sometimes equivocal about certain cases, and a guilty verdict might be reversed on appeal, the finality of the firing squad may result in many irreversible deaths. Sending them to cool off in the death row might at least give them time to explore all possible avenues to save their neck. And more importantly to repent their sin.

What is important now is to ensure that all the hand-in-glove activities are detected and broughtbto book, roping in everyone involved, be they a junior ofgicer or a political bigwig. When the thief catchers themselves turn into a thief, how can we catch him? Who is supposedvto catch him.

norzah said...

Akhi Kaykuala, you seem to have thrown up the towel in despair or disappointment. i'm glad that the Ministry of Home Affairs is not doing that and has just decided to form a task force to look into the border corruption case. Have just decided mind you, after it has been going on for how long, nobody knows. More interesting to see will be: who will make up the task force. Most probablly the chiefs who should have detected the wronggoings in the first place.

That is the great problem. Who do we get to catch the thieves. Government officials? Politicians? Civilians. Why don't we get journalists to work undercover as done by the NST? If they are known, they mightalso be interested in earning RM50,000 a day by NOT doing anything - see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing.

THAT's where the dilemma is.

norzah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rambomadonna said...

Norzah, I follow your writings cuma tak comment jer. Most of the time sebab your entry need lots of digestion for an officer yang baru merangkak macam i ni hahaha

I decided to actively write again in all my blogs. I used to love sharing ideas, achievements, frustration etc ... then I used the excuse of being busy or lazy once here in Penang ... but sebenarnya ... huhuhu TST

but as my contract here in Penang will end soon, i will not hesitate to pen it down. Beginning this year if you noticed 4 entries I dah share.

norzah said...

Yes, J, i read them all and had responded to two. Don't read what i write too deeply. Just respond to your own guts feeling about the subject or anything triggered by the post. We r not supposed to be too serious on the blog, right? U used to be very humorous. Don't let the worries of the day drag you down into morbid contemplation. Bring back my ligt hearted and cheeky Jaime.