Dennis Ignatius: War on corruption – open letter to PM

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Dear Prime Minister,


You recently pleaded with the citizens of Malaysia to support your efforts to fight corruption and bring to book all those who are corrupt no matter who they are.

You should know that the vast majority of Malaysians are thrilled that we finally have a PM who has made fighting corruption the centrepiece of his administration. Malaysians don’t need to be reminded about how those in positions of power have long plundered the nation with impunity, impoverishing us all by their greed and thievery.  Nothing would please Malaysians more than to see every last one of those crooks – Tuns and all – behind bars if they are found guilty by the courts.

So, Prime Minister, rest assured that you have the full support of every decent and law-abiding Malaysian.

But even as we cheer you on in your crusade against corruption, there are worrying signs that your campaign against corruption is not what it appears to be. It’s beginning to look like just another cynical move to take down your political opponents.

Is it mere coincidence, for example, that most of those currently under investigation are your political adversaries? Is it mere coincidence that your political allies who have been charged with corruption are being let off the hook one by one? There seems to be an unofficial rule of thumb – DNAA for your friends and allies, MACC for your political enemies.

It is no secret that there are tons of corrupt politicians, past and present, along with their cronies who have amassed huge fortunes under suspect circumstances. Not a few were even mentioned in the Pandora Papers. Why haven’t they been served with a demand to explain their wealth as was done in the case of Daim’s family?

You also do the fight against corruption a disservice when you personalise and politicise the whole issue – bragging about how you intend to take down powerful people who also happen to be your political adversaries. Do you have the same courage and conviction when it comes to investigating the unexplained wealth of your own supporters?

As a politician, it’s not your job to say who should be investigated; if there’s evidence, the MACC – if it’s truly independent – should act without having to be told. By politicizing the war on corruption, you have turned the whole issue into a circus.

It has not gone unnoticed as well that under your administration, the MACC has taken to digging up cases from long ago while ignoring cases that are right under its nose. What has become, for example, of the LCS case which you were once very vocal about? Could inaction on the case be because some of those responsible for the fiasco might now be part of your administration?

It is also telling that you chose to extend the tenure of Azam Baki as head of MACC despite questions about both his integrity and impartiality. Under his leadership, the MACC has come to be viewed as nothing more than a political tool to whoever is in power. Daim, for example, didn’t become rich overnight; was the MACC unaware of his wealth until you came to power?

Why retain such a figure unless you – like others before you – simply want someone pliable in that position, someone who will do your bidding.

If you seriously want to unite the nation behind you in fighting corruption, build a better MACC – independent, credible and fireproofed against all political interference – and then get out of the way and let them do their work without fear or favour. Respect the system, don’t play favourites; let those who are guilty, friend or foe alike, face the full force of the law. That’s how the system is supposed to work in a democracy.

Prime Minister, as you yourself noted on several occasions, our nation is at a critical juncture in the fight against corruption. What you do will either damn us or set us free from the scourge of corruption.  Do the right thing and you will have the undying gratitude of all Malaysians.


Dennis Ignatius