Dear politicians, governing isn’t a moneymaking scheme

Erna Mahyuni
Erna Mahyuni
Erna Mahyuni

DECEMBER 4 — It isn’t Malaysian politics if there isn’t infighting though one political party seems determined to win that category in the Malaysian Politicking Olympics.

What’s rather telling though is that in the most recent kerfuffle, one politician argued he didn’t deserve sacking despite telling other members they “could” bid for government contracts.

His arguments, which were on the lines of, “well no one got them anyway” are ridiculous and an indicator of how deep politicians are wallowing in the muck of pork barrel politics.

He doesn’t just deserve to be sacked; maybe throw out most of his party out with the bathwater because boy, it’s murky.

You don’t need to be the auditor-general to see how many politicians have questionable spending habits. We shouldn’t also be needing to tell certain politicians to refuse over-generous favours for their spouses from industry bigwigs but looking at Instagram, I guess they need memos.

There have been some measures such as income declaration and a limit on gift value that have been imposed. But it is not enough.

Politicians need to be made to choose between their business interests or their actual jobs. It is no coincidence that political connections have created a bunch of wealthy hangers-on, all benefiting from who they know or related to.

Yet we still see politicians making excuses for big contracts being gifted to their kin or close connections and ignoring any accusations of nepotism.

Income inequality is a growing problem in Malaysia and it’s not helped by this perception that it’s OK to enrich yourself, even to the detriment of others.

We can’t counter the perception that being in politics is a path to riches when it is sadly a Malaysian truth.

It is not OK, Malaysians, to give our politicians a free pass to instant wealth thanks to their positions of power.

One simple step to cleaning up the procurement process is to simply have a rule — no membership in a political party and no familial connections to anyone currently in the government.

Time to destroy the political elevator to lucrative contracts and separate business interests from politics, and politicians. Until we do that, we are going to constantly see politicians and their kin flaunting their luxury shopping on Instagram.

In the meantime, I support a massive bonfire of seized luxury goods because seeing how addicted some of our high-living politicians are to them, maybe they’re just as bad a scourge as drugs.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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