The Asian Voice

1MDB: Malaysian system flawed, unlike S'pore's, which is fair and just, says Sin Chew Daily

Malaysian PM Najib Razak at the 19th Annual Leaders Consultation in Brunei on Aug 11.
Malaysian PM Najib Razak at the 19th Annual Leaders Consultation in Brunei on Aug 11. PHOTO: REUTERS

SIN CHEW DAILY(ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was invited to attend the 50th national day celebration of Singapore.

I wonder how he would feel seeing the enviable achievements of our tiny neighbour.

Malaysia and Singapore used to be one country half a century ago. However, as Singapore is steadfastly charging ahead today, we see our country plunged into further turmoil.

What makes such a vast disparity?

Personally I feel that the biggest difference lies with the system.

Singapore's system is not the best, but it excels in being fair and just. Even in the absence of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, such a system will ensure that the country will not lose its way in the future.

As for our country, we have a fair share of shortcomings in our system. Despite the transformation programme introduced by the PM several years ago, we seem to have regressed further today.

As a matter of fact, if the system is healthy, we don't even need any transformation program as the country will have been on the right track already.

Take the 1MDB scandal and RM2.6 billion (S$920 million) political donation for instance, if we do not put in sufficient effort to rectify and reform our deficiencies, the state of confusion will only aggravate, eventually taking its toll on the country's economic stability.

For example, replacing the attorney-general requires our conformity to specific procedures and regulations. Like replacing a judge, we need to act in accordance with the Constitution.

The judiciary is an important pillar of the country's institution playing the role of checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of the government. As a result, its status and independence must be protected by the Federal Constitution.

Unfortunately the government terminated the service of Abdul Gani Patail on "health reasons" out of the knowledge of the former attorney-general himself.

As for the three-month suspension of The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly, the government has obviously reneged on its transformation pledge of press freedom.

The media enjoy a certain status in any democratic country and press freedom is often even enshrined in the constitutions. For instance,

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances".

Press freedom must be annexed into the system of any democratic society lest the public's right to knowledge is infringed and the capacity to check the administrative mechanisms crippled.

On the questioning of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers and transfer of two senior officers to the PM's Department, the anti-graft agency said this had significantly affected their investigation of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Under Section 48 of the MACC Act, it is an offense to obstruct or intervene in the investigations of MACC. If not because of the objection from a minister, the transfers might not have been reversed.

The control of political donations is yet another key area in the democratic system. Laws have been drawn up in many countries to control the acceptance of political donations, including Russia.

The government is duty-bound to perfect our system. Because of the defective system, we have seen the occurrence of many irrational incidents. The enforcement officials often act as judges to determine who is guilty and who is innocent.

The enforcement units must act independently, but unfortunately they often take instructions from the executive bosses, failing to see the fact that their bosses are actually the rakyat and the country's laws, not the government leaders.

An impeccable system should be one that upholds the rule of law, not rule of man. No one is above the law, and if the law doesn't work, the whole country will be in utter chaos.

A healthy system can ensure that laws are executed faithfully and acts of insanity blocked.