4:40pm 03/01/2024
Not just Daim and Mahathir
By:Mariam Mokhtar

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) deals with corrupt politicians and civil servants with the one bullet to the back of the neck.

Russia sends corrupt politicians to work as forced labour in the Siberian gulags.

In South Korea, Egypt, and some countries in the West, corrupt politicians are swiftly brought to trial.

Incredibly, our system of justice appears to move at a snail’s pace.

On 2 January, Umno-Baru supreme council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi said the rakyat would like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate both former prime minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and his ally, former finance minister Daim Zainuddin.

No! Puad is wrong, because the rakyat would like all former allegedly corrupt politicians, and this includes MPs and state assemblymen, to be fully scrutinised, not just Daim and Mahathir.

When the corrupt stole from the rakyat, they also robbed us of the nation’s soul and pride.

We became a divided nation with a society split into the “haves” and the “have nots”.

These two men had a hand in Malaysians losing our national identity and spirit. The rich became richer, the poor, poorer.

Ever since Mahathir’s tenure as PM, the rakyat already had their suspicions about politicians, civil servants and members of the armed forces becoming wealthy overnight.

However, many felt powerless to do anything about it.

Whistleblowers were not protected by any law. The ISA was frequently abused to protect the bad. The rich had money to pay off people to stop them from talking, or to sweep things under the carpet.

In many cases, the rich had enough money to pay for the best defence lawyers to prove their “innocence” and allegedly line the judges’ pockets, to take a certain course of action.

Corrupt politicians or their children, family members and close associates, were often spending beyond their means, flaunting their wealth, buying millions of shares in public-listed companies, despite only earning a meagre government servant’s pay-packet or politician’s salary.

Before Mahathir became PM, politicians and individuals in government service were punished or sacked after investigations proved any allegation of corruption made against them.

Later on, many who lived during the Mahathir era spoke of the bitter irony endured by whistleblowers who suddenly found that they were the ones being investigated instead of the Anti-Corruption Agency probing the people whom they had reported for being corrupt. 

The corrupt escaped scot-free because the authorities allegedly closed one eye to allegations of corruption.

If these corrupt people had been investigated, charged and punished, this country would not have been in such a perilous state today.

Malaysia would have been a much richer nation, if not for the plundering, looting and theft of taxpayers’ money.

This was not limited to treasury money alone, because land, the nation’s resources such as oil, gas and hydrocarbon deposits, its forests and minerals were divided among the privileged few with the known political culprits enjoying the lion’s share of the nation’s wealth.

Will the probe be fruitful and lead to charges, trials and punishment? Or is the investigation just another wayang kulit?

A few years ago, we learnt from the Panama and Pandora Papers exposés that hundreds of billions of US dollars had been quietly spirited away from Malaysia and safely stashed in Singapore, Switzerland, and London.

Prominent politicians and individuals have been named. Those implicated have denied any wrongdoing. Of course, they would. Other named individuals said nothing.

Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin’s probe is timely.

A few years ago, the convicted felon Najib Abdul Razak was found guilty and is currently languishing in Kajang Prison. Other high profile politicians such as Sabah’s Musa Aman were acquitted, whilst Umno-Baru strongman Ahmad Zahidi Hamidi received a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA), and still enjoys a commanding position as Malaysia’s DPM.

The rakyat waited for decades to see political sharks being investigated instead of the small fry being probed for alleged corruption, wrongdoing, money-laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT).

For the rakyat, any new cases being investigated are treated with a mixture of relief and scepticism.

Will the probe be fruitful and lead to charges, trials and punishment? Or is the investigation just a wayang kulit (shadow play) in an attempt to convince the public that enquiries are being conducted and to get our hopes up?

By doing so, the public will hold the current Madani administration in high regard. After all, going after the corrupt is one of their election pledges and it always helps to plan for the future.

When Malaysians heard that the MACC was investigating Daim, the same questions, “Is this for real?” and “Is this just another wayang?” were asked.

Will the latest probe into Daim lead to more probes against other high-profile former high-ranking ministers and MPs?

Will the authorities dismantle the damaging nepotism and cronyism promoted during the Mahathir era?

Will taxpayers’ money be returned to the rakyat?

Will the many corrupt politicians and their cronies in East Malaysia be included in the drag-net?

What about the Attorney-General’s Chambers? Can we rely on them to do the right thing because we’ve been disappointed with the decisions taken for some high-profile cases?

What about the DPP? Are they men of integrity with the relevant experience and skills? Will it take years to see the outcome of a corrupt politician being sentenced, or will we have to wait a lifetime before we see any result?


  1. Malaysiakini: Rakyat eager to see MACC probe Mahathir, Daim: Umno leader

(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)


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