Weekly Highlights

Is kleptocracy making a comeback?

Is kleptocracy dead in Malaysia or will it make a come-back?

In the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018, Malaysians surprised themselves and the world by making a stand against kleptocracy and the 1MDB financial scandal, toppling the government which had made Malaysia synonymous with kleptocracy and the 1MDB financial scandal.

But is kleptocracy dead in Malaysia or will it make a come-back?

Have Malaysians learnt the lesson of the 1MDB financial scandal or will there be similar financial scandals looting  billions of ringgit of  taxpayers’ money and landing the country in  international shame and infamy?

These are questions which have suddenly become  very real and relevant this week, when it was announced that the former Prime Minister and kingpin of Malaysian kleptocracy and 1MDB  financial scandal has  been appointed as Chair of the Barisan Nasional Backbencher’s Club (BNBBC) in the Malaysian Parliament.

In the final years of the  13th Parliament especially from 2015 – 2018, the issues of Malaysia becoming a kleptocracy and the 1MDB financial scandal were banned as subjects in the Malaysian Parliament. 

After less than two years of lifting of the ban on these two issues in Parliament, are we back to square one with the kingpin of the 1MDB scandal and Malaysian kleptocracy making a come-back with the kingpin’s former lieutenants, who were Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the previous government, never showing regret in Parliament for the 1MDB scandal and turning Malaysia into a kleptocracy.

As Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said in his 500-page judgment when convicting Najib of corruption, money-laundering and abuse of power in connection with the RM42 million SRC-1MDB case, and sentenced him to 12 years’ jail and fines of RM210 million on July 28, Najib never expressed  any remorse and even maintained his defence of innocence in his mitigation speech.

I had given time to Najib to clarify his appointment as BNBBC Chairman, and I thank him for having done so  in his Facebook posting yesterday. He is really committed to making a comeback and I am surprised  that Barisan Nasional, whether UMNO, MCA or MIC had learnt nothing from the 14th General Election debacle with regard to the 1MDB scandal or Malaysia as a kleptocracy.

Let me just say that there is no reason for me to fear Najib, but I am very afraid that kleptocracy and financial scandals like the 1MDB scandal will make a come-back in Malaysia, as public integrity and anti-corruption have not taken deep roots in Malaysia.

Malaysia had the best Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report in January this year, when the 2019 TI CPI was released.

The Sheraton Move was an invitation for kleptocracy.

It was the best antidote to the atmosphere of gloom and doom which had descended on the country, and which hopefully would spark the start of a virtuous circle of delivery of Pakatan Harapan general election promises and achievements in 2020.

But it was not to be, as the Pakatan Harapan government was toppled by the Sheraton Move conspiracy which brought in a backdoor, illegitimate and kakistocratic government.

When Transparency International started its annual CPI report in 1995, Malaysia was ranked No. 23 out of 41 countries with a score of 5.28  points out of ten  and in 1996, Malaysia was ranked No. 26 out of 54 countries with a score of 5.32  points out of ten.

In the past quarter of a century, we have lost out on the public integrity front to many countries, while other countries like Indonesia and China have made great strides on the anti-corruption front.

Under Najib’s administration, Malaysia’s TI CPI 2017 ranked No. 62 (lowest for Malaysia in 25 year since 1995) with a score of 47 out of 100.

In the TI CPI 2019, Malaysia is ranked No. 51 with a score of 53, registering a single-year improvement six points for the TI CPI score and 10 placings in TI CPI ranking, which is the best performance for Malaysia in the past quarter of a century.


I had expected an improvement in the TI CPI score and ranking for 2019, but the final results were beyond my greatest expectations

“I had hoped that the TI CPI 2019 Report, the best in 25 years,  would be the  basis for a  new era of anti-corruption in Malaysia by achieving a better score  and ranking in the TI CPI 2020 Report in January 2021 and in subsequent years  to embark Malaysia on the road to become one the world’s top 30 countries in public integrity before 2030.” – Lim Kit Siang

Unfortunately, this is not to be.  With Najib as Chairman of BNBBC in Parliament, without any remorse for the 1MDB scandal and  Malaysia becoming a kleptocracy, I am very pessimistic about the TI CPI 2020 Report which would be released in three months’ time.

In order to distract national attention from the 1MDB scandal and Malaysia becoming a kleptocracy, the former Prime Minister spearheaded a cyber warfare against DAP leaders, accusing me as anti-Malay, anti-Islam, anti-Royalty, a communist, a relative of Malayan Communist Party secretary-General Chin Peng and who was born in China and came to Malaysia when I was an adolescent.

All these are downright lies, but the politics of falsehood and fake news, coupled with an intolerant and extremist politics of race and religion, have done considerable damage to the building a successful and united multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia.

Now with kleptocracy on the verge of making a come-back, Malaysians must learn the bitter lessons of the past decade.

Lim Kit Siang

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