When foxes guard the chicken coop

18 Dec 2018 / 09:00 H.

IT is so alarming, upsetting and almost damning to read daily the abuse of authority of those entrusted with public trust and public funds. It seems like a never-ending story, like the outbreak of a contagious disease, infecting institutions set up for specific and noble objectives and purposes, and to address particular needs and demands.

These are the various “Tabungs” and funds, such as Tabung Haji, and the various investment vehicles established to generate income that can be channelled to and benefit targeted groups, such as smallholders and savers who plan to perform their pilgrimage.

Certainly, those in charge are vested with the responsibility of not only looking after the monies involved, but also to judiciously and prudently invest such funds so as to generate good returns for stakeholders.

There is that basic element of accountability and responsibility involved, to justify that trust emplaced in the individuals concerned.

And now, it appears that there are webs of deceit and fraud, and schemes to embezzle for personal gain, running into billions of ringgit. Even the Pilgrimage Fund seemed easy picking for some who clearly are devoid of conscience and principles.

Where and when will it end?

How did the klepto culture seep so deep into the system, to the point that it is a national shame and embarrassment?

How did things get so bad that dipping into public coffers seemed to be tolerated? It will not be wrong to surmise that it is a subculture that has become rather pervasive.

Governance was clearly not by the guidance of conscience but by the dictates of greed and avarice.

It’s almost a culture of “take all that you can”.

Now it is all beginning to unravel. The how and the how much. The who and the who else.

The amounts are as mind-boggling as the devious means employed. It is the epitome of borderless business. Except that these are fraudulent activities, scams and outright cheating of the public.

It will certainly require much effort to regain public trust. The Pakatan Harapan government must do all it can to do things differently, and eradicate that culture of “easy going” public defrauding. “Differently” as in ensuring laws and rules are strictly adhered to, public trust is upheld always, and the right people are placed in the relevant positions.

Honesty and integrity must be the key qualities. Not particular affiliations and connections. Nor should we be fooled by facades of niceness and harmlessness. There are, as everyone knows, the “gentlemen robbers” whose appearances belie the malice and ill intent in them. They have absolutely no compunction to defraud and embezzle because they do not have the conscience to constrain and restrain them.

There will always be wolves in sheep’s clothing. There will continue to be those who will use whatever conduit and methods to achieve their preplanned goals. Such goals could be to latch on to some plum positions that can further some devious personal plans, or catch everyone off guard by playing nice and religious, and “pijak semut tak mati” (when stepping on ants, the ants don’t die ... so gentle is the person).

It’s like having a “gentle and benevolent looking hungry fox” being asked to look after a coop of plump chickens.

The problem is the fox is only one of a hungry unprincipled pack.

As a group of vultures is called a committee (as well as “venue” or “volt”), it would be quite appropriate to refer to individual humans who scheme together to defraud, embezzle and indulge in kleptocracy as vultures.

Malaysians who do not condone such wrongdoings, wait, often impatiently, for the outcomes of the cases already before the courts.

They do not pray to the Almighty for anything malicious. All they are praying for is for justice to prevail, and for the wrongs to be put right.

The PH government must be extra careful with appointees to the various positions, which come with much authority and power over funds and influence.

No country can afford to have foxes looking after chicken coops, or vultures in committees constantly eyeing their next prey.

Malaysia has lost so much already.

Congratulations to the PH government for unravelling the almost unbelievable scams and kleptocratic embellishments of the recent past.

The people patiently await the outcomes.

Sejahtera Malaysia kita.

Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz believes in speaking from the heart, mincing no words. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

email blast