By Moaz Nair | Malaysia Chronicle
Najib may preach to the people on ‘political certainty’ to save BN (Barisan Nasional) from tumbling in the next general election. But little does he realise that political certainty and economic stability remain an ideal when corruption is endemic in the government. Corruption or misuse of public power is synonymous to bad governance of a country.
“UMNO and BN are whirling with a welter of scandals and corruption, a festering economy and of late the exposé that foreign authorities have been poring over the bank accounts of well-established Malaysians including politicians,” commented a senior lawmaker. “Nothing seems to bode well for the government before the next general election,” he added.
Malaysia’s CPI in 2011 as published in TI (Transparency International) was 4.3 – the worst ever score in the past 10 years. This figure is bound to drop more with the revelation of more corruption cases by the strong Opposition force in the country now.
This will put the country on a par with many other developing countries that are facing the same blights – corruption, political uncertainty and economic instability.
Political stability is imperative for investors and for development. And this stability can only be augmented when there is a two-party system. Check-and-balance is crucial in ensuring that there is a healthy democracy, accountability and no misuse of public power for private benefit. Oppressing the Opposition with lies and hatred will make the incumbent government none the wiser.
“To ensure political certainty and stability only politicians with integrity, competence and who are not corrupt are chosen to lead the nation,” commented a university lecturer.
Evidence of good governance
The two-party system of the country has paved the way for both BN and PR engrossment in taking charge of the states in the country.
If evidence of good governance is what the people seek then they are the four states under PR (Pakatan) government – Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan – that have paved the veracious way for all other states to emulate.
The success of states under PR is testimony that the nation will not be in jeopardy or will nose-dive into the gorge of ruins if the Opposition is given the chance to govern the country.
Political certainty is crucial for economic growth. In line with this, investors are convinced that Penang and Selangor are the two most successful and stable states in the country. These two states achieved the utmost in terms of economic growth for the past four years.
They are well-managed financially and economically. Kedah and Kelantan have also done well.
The combined total of economic growth of all the four states under PR has been the highest compared to the combined total all the states under BN rule in the past four years. The reason to this is that they know about wealth creation, not corruption and wastage. Selangor, for instance, has recorded the highest sum in reserves, amounting to RM1.9 billion for last year.
Nothing is more evident
Penang’s debt to the federal government has been reduced from RM630 million to only RM30 million. Hence, nothing is more evident to support this notion of success than what is happening right now in Penang, Kedah, Selangor and Kelantan.
Efficiency and free of corruption have played the role in the relative economic prosperity enjoyed by these states since the PR government took over. These states have seen stability and prosperity not only economically but also in the social and religious aspects as well.
BN or PR there can always be political certainty in the country. The only way to ensure this climate is to have a check-and-balance on the misuse of public power by having a strong Opposition. In the local context the Opposition can now be either BN or PR – thanks to the advent of a two-party system in the country that has benefitted the people.
The country now has four successful states under PR where BN is the Opposition. In all the other states PR is the Opposition.
Regimes have collapsed
Corruption in all forms is hampering the political certainty for BN to stay in power. With PR making major inroads in many parts of the country the next general election could see a change in the political equation in the country. Ideally, no single political party or coalition should be at the helm of power for decades as this would breed venality.
History has proven that many regimes have collapsed in the past when politicians misuse public power for their private benefit. Corruption in all its forms has brought changes to governments the world over.
History has seen how countries in the present and past that have been under a single authoritative power for decades but finally collapse in a throbbing manner. Decades of unchallenged power or suppression of the people is akin to a ‘time bomb’ waiting to implode and for the regimes in these countries to cave in.
When leaders, their families and cronies enrich themselves at the expense of the masses and the poor the rot starts. After or just before their downfall these self-seeking groups would seek to leave the country with their illegally accumulated wealth all stashed overseas and in foreign banks. Their close family members are turned into billionaires and own properties and palaces in developed countries.
Many countries have faced the fate of having leaders identical to the late Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, to quote just two examples.
Ferdinand Marcos was a Filipino politician who held the title of President of the Philippines for more than two decades (1965 to 1986). His administration later was marred by massive authoritarian, political despotism, and human rights violations.
1986 saw his removal from power and eventual exile in Hawaii. It was later discovered that, during his 20 years in power, he and his ‘expensive’ wife Imelda Marcos had moved billions of dollars of embezzled public funds to accounts and investments in the United States, Switzerland, and other countries.
The damage done was so bad that even after Marcos’ regime had long gone the CPI of the country still stands at 2.8 to 3.4 for the past 10 years.
Corruption and abuse of power
The CPI for Egypt was 2.8 to 3.4 for the past 10 years. Hosni Mubarak served as the fourth President of Egypt for about 3 decades from 1981 to 2011.
Mubarak was ousted after 18 days of demonstrations during the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Mubarak and both his sons were detained and questioned about allegations of corruption and abuse of power. The family is reputed to be among the world’s richest people.
It was reported that state corruption during Mubarak's presidency was rife. The Egyptian government under him came up with bureaucratic regulations, registration requirements, and other controls that often fed corruption. Corruption remained a major problem under Mubarak, who promised to do much, but in fact neither did anything substantial to tackle it effectively.
In 2010, TI’s CPI report assessed Egypt with a CPI score of 3.1, based on perceptions of the degree of corruption from business people and country analysts.
Many countries have faced political uncertainties due not to the people or the Opposition but self-seeking politicians within the sitting governments who were more interested in lining their pockets will wealth through devious means.
It will affect UMNO more
Political certainty or stability is again the function of many other factors, including an incumbent government willing to step down if it is found not good enough and ineffectual. It’s only when a regime refuses to relinquish power when losing an election will it cause political volatility. “Changing government democratically will always ensure political certainty and economic stability,” commented a local political observer. “It is only when the sitting government refuses to concede defeat and relinquish power with there be disorder,” he added.
As long as democracy is cherished the country will progress without glitches – whichever coalition takes over the rein.
If at all there is going to political uncertainty in the country it will affect UMNO more than PAS – the two dominant Malay-based parties in the country. Stoking racial and religious polarisation has not put UMNO in the good book of investors. When UMNO plays the race card the people can sense that this will lead to the political uncertainty or survival of UMNO itself.
Race relations in the country has fortunately been moderated by PAS – the party that has shown much reasonableness when it comes to race relations.
Beyond that, the recent Bersih 3.0 rally has also proven to the investors that people of all races in the country can come together in cohesion to express their discontent for a government that does not subscribe to free and fair elections.
People are now wise enough to see racism in UMNO politics. They also perceive the government as so corrupt and inefficient in managing the country’s wealth.
“Racism, inefficient and corrupt government are responsible for making the lives of the people difficult,” said a 28-year-old university graduate. “If this is allowed to go on, it will cause political uncertainty in the country. It actually will affect UMNO more in our political equation,” he added.
Political certainty and stability can only be achieved when an elected government is not corrupt, transparent and accountable to the people.
Najib or Mahathir can stop coercing voters to stick to BN. When a government is irresponsible, corrupt, inept, or cheats and spends way beyond their means the people will seek an alternative platform to ensure stability for the country.
Without a viable competition in politics there will be monopoly of power that can lead to more corruption, incompetence and financial abuse. BN thus cannot be allowed to monopolise power.
“They are the sources of instability because they grind down taxpayer’s money and make life miserable for many Malaysians,” commented a businessman in Kuala Lumpur. “Corrupt practices have put BN in a bad shape in the eyes of the people,” he added.
The people aspire for change not to ‘rock the boat’ but to seek a better bet for political and economic stability of the country. Najib has to edify himself that the source of political uncertainty or instability is the government, not the people.
Apparently, what seems to be uncertain here is UMNO’s political future when PAS has obviously become the people’s preferred choice to replace the ‘hoary’ party.
Has UMNO and BN outlived their usefulness to the country?