Thursday, December 4, 2008

Excesses and Others of the 1970s onwards - some thoughts

It is important for us to understand and maybe even revisit some of the events in our country post 1970 to mid-1990 in terms of the culture of excesses that we have allowed to grow.

Since the 1970s, our government (read: civil service) has grown and grown but noticeably there was not even a hint that government should be accountable. It was then mostly a notion that being government, it can do anything it wants. Hence as far as the delivery “system” was concerned, the rakyat was at its mercy. You are simply expected to be grateful for whatever service you receive. The quality or lack thereof of the civil service reflects on those responsible for the thinking and planning (if any) of the civil service. For more than 20 years, the civil service grew into a powerful, non accountable, bulky, corrupt and inefficient body that burdens the taxpaying rakyat. Sadly, no politician appear able or willing to stop the rot in the civil service – for fear of losing votes.

There was also the DEB which, I believe had good objectives. Unfortunately while a small minority gained, the majority did not. I believe much of the DEB’s measures were hijacked by greedy, selfish individuals for their gain at the expense of the target groups. I also believe that the DEB was used by irresponsible, cruel individuals to enrich themselves using the most dubious methods at the expense of the larger target group. Hence, the Ali Babas, the numerous “projek terbengkalai”, the failure of many companies and the terribly sick state of many GLCs.

At the outset, I must say that it is totally unfair and inaccurate to blame the whole Malay population as appears to be the unhealthy trend today. It is as a result of unholy alliances of individuals from various ethnic groups thinking only of themselves that have landed us in the state we are in today. This, Raperas must be clear of, for should we not be tired of being bondaged in cliché thinking after all these years???

The other factor of course is that we totally lack politicians with radical thinking abilities and determined persistence to get done what needs to be done. Everyone was thinking not only within the box but within a small corner of the box. Everyone developed a “tutup satu mata” value.

It is under such circumstances that the culture of excesses among the government began to flourish and became the norm. It became a socially acceptable Malaysian culture to “pay something ikhlas” to the civil servants to make them do the very job they are supposed to do. If something “ikhlas” is not given, the task may still be done but may be done many months later or completely shoddily. Sometimes, without the “ikhlas” element, your work may be doomed. When the Rakyat still does not understand the importance of an independent judiciary and the rule of law, puny napoleons make their own laws wrecking your lives.

The power of the “gomen” is not something you may want to complain because of fear that you may end up the victim. For short term and personal gains, the few corporate rakyat who were in cahoots with the corrupt civil servants actually sold off your children’s future. It must be gotten back.

To compound the problem, accountability is not a culture in our society which unashamedly pays lip service to Islam and eastern values and such moralistic diatribe. The systematic exclusion by the relevant authorities of any intelligent discussion of Islamic and Asian values only prevents the opening of the Rakyat’s eyes. The teachings of the Quran, however is very clear. Accountability and responsibility for personal actions are pivotal to one’s faith in Allah. One such verse is as follows:

“Therein (in hell) will they cry aloud (for assistance): "Our Lord! Bring us out: we shall work righteousness, not the (deeds) we used to do!" - "Did We not give you long enough life so that he that would should receive admonition? and (moreover) the warner came to you. So taste you (the fruits of your deeds): for the wrong-doers there is no helper." (35.037)

A believer (mukmin) or a submitter (muslim) will have no choice but to undertake steps that will truly create a norm of true accountability in society. The task is not easy but certainly it is not impossible. In any event, the only existing alternative is to allow the rot to continue until the entire of civilized society collapses.

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