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Going downhill

  • Instead of progressing decisively towards Vision 2020, we are going downhill... Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

By LIM SUE GOAN
Sin Chew Daily

Two and a half years to go before our goal for a developed nation status by 2020, but our political leaders hardly mention this vision any more. In its stead, they are talking only about TN50.

As a matter of fact, we all know that it is impossible for us to fulfill our Vision 2020 goal. It is not the ringgit devaluation that makes US$15,000 per capita income threshold such a distant dream, but we are simply nowhere near the standards of developed states in other parameters as well.

Where management is concerned, we are still at the middle school level. For instance, we have a severe issue of striking a balance between income and expenditure. We know very well we must cut civil service remunerations in order to curb rising operating expenses, but what we do instead is to slash development expenses, hence hurting our overall competitiveness.

To fill up the emptied treasury, the government has set up the National Revenue Recovery Enforcement Team (NRRET), a special task force that will include the AG's Chambers, PDRM, Bank Negara, LHDN and Customs Dept, to recover lost tax revenue.

The seizure of Country Heights Holdings founder Lee Kim Yew's RM126 million fixed deposit in a foreign-owned bank by LHDN is believed to have been associated with the RM22.5 million tax liabilities incurred in 1997 and 1998.

Lee said investigating him under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLA) was an insult to him.

Gong after tax defaulters is understandable at a time government finances are in a pathetic state, but drastic actions like this could hurt businesses.

Even then why has the government not done anything to check the outflow of black money?

According to Global Financial Integrity (GFI) estimates, up to US$431 billion worth of black money flowed out of Malaysia between 2005 and 2014. Given such a massive outflow, little wonder the local economy has become so anemic.

Battling corruption will also effectively halt the drain of national resources, but since the corruption culture has penetrated deep into the Malaysian society, uprooting it is truly a tall order.

Not only minor officials are involved in trivial acts of corruption, those high in office are also teaming up to steal from the country.

22 police officers and cops from Bukit Aman narcotics crime investigation department have been arrested for colluding with drug trafficking syndicates. Deputy IGP Noor Rashid Ibrahim said this happened not only in KL but all over the country.

Additionally, several senior police officers in Melaka, including two police district chiefs, have been nabbed by MACC for allegedly sheltering illegal gambling dens and massage parlors.

Rampant corruption on the part of the Malaysian police force is a reflection of crumbling public sector morality.

MACC deputy chief commissioner Shamsun Baharin Mohd Jamil said as over 50% of those arrested for corruption were civil servants, MACC would zero in on the public sector in its corruption-busting initiative over the next three years.

It is yet to be seen whether MACC's effort to combat corruption will win the public's backing. The agency's study shows that 16.5% of tertiary students in the country are willing to accept bribes while 19% are willing to offer bribes to escape enforcement actions.

As the "you help me, I help you" practice is fast becoming a norm in Malaysian politics, we don't expect MACC's initiative to significantly pay off when our politicians are handing out goodies to voters.

Administrative irregularities aside, the quality of our people is also getting increasingly alarming.

Money game has been able to have its way here not only because of lax enforcement, members of the public are also to blame for dancing to the scammers' tune. Indeed, Johnson Lee has been arrested, but we still have countless of Johnson Lees going around with their businesses. Each of us cannot be spared of our responsibility for reducing the country into one inundated by money game scams.

We are counting on our youngsters for the country's future, but look at what have become of our youngsters! Some are involved in secret societies and gangs while others are racing their bikes in the wee hours of the morning.

The mentality of some has also deviated from the globalized trends. A UUM lecturer has accused the autobiography of Selangor state legislative assembly speaker Hannah Yeoh of attempting to proselytize Muslims, and in the slapping incident during the TN50 dialogue with the PM, the perpetrator has been largely spared by NGOs which instead staged raucous protests against the victim.

Such arrogant behaviors have upended our established social values while our national leader has done nothing to stop them.

Chaos is reigning supreme in our society: trashed streets, ubiquitous loanshark ads, deteriorating social orders, rampant drug abuse... International comments have been equally disheartening, including allegations of human rights violation and human trafficking. All these are signs the country is going steadily downhill.

We need to have a sense of shame, without which we will never become a respected first-class nation.

 

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