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.