Friday, December 17, 2010


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We have, as a nation,

been truly sold down the “river of no return” by Mahathir.

Change, and complete change, is the answer.

By Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim

Malaysia is, ethically speaking, in dire straits.

Mahathir founded his administration on corruption, lies and subterfuge. He lied to the nation about the many schemes that were blatantly dishonest. Worse, they were criminal, such as gambling with the EPF money, your money and mine, to corner the international tin market, and later the country’s reserves to speculate on the currency market, pitting himself in the latter case against George Soros. The country lost billions.

Mahathir succeeded in planting and nurturing a culture of impunity and disinformation that, even long after he left office, has continued to flourish. Of course, the man who cut his business teeth minding a stall at the Pekan Rabu in Alor Setar during the Japanese Occupation can explain all this away by saying that whatever he did, it was done in the national interest. We have heard it all before.

Corrupt officials do not enforce the law. Our corruption has turned Malaysia into a conduit for human trafficking into Australia. When we add to this the corruption in the ruling elite, the police, the judiciary, the customs and other key institutions, we have a thoroughly ugly picture of a country fuelled and driven by ethically reprehensible behaviour.

We have, as a nation, been truly sold down the “river of no return” by Mahathir, who now continues to set his version of the moral tone of this country. In what capacity I neither know nor care any more. Flood or pestilence, it is business as usual. In this country, we privatise and politicise everything, including corruption.

[Can anything be done] to take Malaysia back to the pre-Mahathir values? It is possible, by turfing out the present administration so that a thorough and complete review of policies and procedures, with mechanisms for checks and balances firmly put in place. All institutions must justify their existence; those no longer relevant will be closed down. Institutions rendered dysfunctional will be strengthened. The deadwood and the corrupt will be encouraged to take early retirement. Meritocracy will be the sole criterion for suitability to lead.

Transforming the administration is not only desirable, but absolutely essential to [claim our] right to a seat at the top table, among the clean nations, that will shape the future of the world.

Change, and complete change, is the answer. Malaysians must decide the kind of future they want.

I am anti-national by Najib’s latest definition because I speak the truth in a foreign country about Malaysia’s unsavoury reputation for massive corruption. I suppose living off corruption as many of our leaders do with panache and impunity is part of being a true Malaysia.


Condensed from a speech at the 2010 conference of the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association in Sydney in November. Tunku Abdul Aziz is Senator for Penang, national vice-chairman of the DAP, and former vice-chairman of corruption watchdog Transparency International.