Thursday, April 21, 2011


The Star 21 April 2011 reports a rather interesting development in the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the death of Teoh Beng Hock. The gists of the report include: 'the business man told..his company WSK Services used bumiputra companies as fronts to facilitate claims for projects and programmes carried out in the Seri Kembangan constituency'; businessman acknowledges that 'the bumiputra companies received between five and 10% of the contract sum as payment'; he admitted 'most of the contracts to carry out small projects and programmes in the constituency were awarded to the company'; he disclosed 'Teoh was the conduit between him (businessman) and Seri Kembangan state assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah with regards to discussions related to pricing of projects in the constituency''. As we know Teoh was Ean Yong's political aide.

Now this is very serious, raising many questions concerning the DAP's integrity. The DAP gained much ground in the last General Election riding the anti-Dasar Ekonomi Baru or the New Economic Policy. The much maligned aspect of the DEB was of course its so-called 'affirmative action' perceived as favouring the Malays or bumiputras, and discriminating against the non-bumiputras. One of the earliest act of the PR Penang State Goverment upon coming to power was declaring that it would not adhere or implement the DEB or NEP, sparking much political controversies. Now it is rather ironic, going by the disclosure in the RCI, that the PR Selangor state goverment would seem to be practicing a principle of the DEB, that is giving consideration to bumiputra companies in the award of projects.

It is even more ironic, if we reflect on some of the main causes of the failure of the DEB to restructure the economy meaningfully or justly ( we won't go into the issues over the policy aspects of DEB here) One of the main cause was certainly the farming out of business licences, contracts, tenders etc to non -Malays by bumiputras who then become 'sleeping partners' in the classic 'Ali-Baba' practice, or even the earlier ' Pembesar-Kapitan Cina' tradition. It is rather significant to note that the DAP seems to pay homage to this practice. Hence the DAP seems to be caught in not only 'implementing' the DEB, which it denounces as a major platform, but also its abuses of the past, which corrupted and sabotaged it. So plain speaking: what's this about! The DAP has a lot of explaining to do!

It is even more mind boggling, bordering on comedy, if we add to all this the fact that the BN has abrogated the DEP and ushered in the NEM, with much fanfare and political fireworks. Will the BN , like the DAP, make a distinction between pronouncement and practice, between 'policy'and ' implementation'? Will it also revert to the croony- ridden practice of the past?

Coming back to the RCI and the DAP, the disclosure raises many questions. In the first place, is it true?If so, is it a case of the corruption of an individual assemblyman, or is it 'systemic'? Is it a deviation of one, or a party mechanism, an institutionalisation of a practice, a tradition in the making, so to speak? If it is a case of an individual's corruption, the DAP would have to come clean in appropriate measure. Silence would be construed by the public as conspiracy or complicity.

The disclosure also prompts some reflection on our part. What with all the slogans and rhetoric in our politics! I hope it is not simply in obeisance to the imperative of power for the sole purpose of getting a piece of the action in corruption, regardless of public pronouncements and solemn promises. It is meaningless to the public if politics merely come to mean a change of syndicate commanding corruption and its beneficiaries. Politics would then degenerate into the quest for power and the monopoly to dip into the till at the expense of the public!

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