Saturday, January 20, 2007

Corruption & Politicians

I've managed to obtain for myself a copy of Tun Dr Ismail's autobiography "The Reluctant Politician" by Dr Ooi Kee Beng. Unfortunately, and ironically, it's only available in Singapore at the moment. I've been reading it with interest, whenever I could squeeze some time in between work and everything else. ;)

I would certainly encourage all Malaysians who have an interest in the history of Malaysia to secure a copy of the book, for it has provided great insights previously unavailable in our historical academic texts. Unfortunately, while the New Straits Times have been serialising and promoting the book for the past weeks, they have carefully edited (or self-censored?) parts of it. There was an extract on "special rights of Malays" which I blogged on earlier. As I read the book, I'll blog in bits and pieces several interesting anecdotes I find in it.

Here's a section where he thought that Malaysians of all races, going to the government "is one of the easiest ways to make money; and they know very well that some [may be] thrown out in five-yearly elections [...] so they accept bribes and become corrupt".

He is certainly right in that many do join the government or the governing political parties for it is indeed one of the easiest ways to make money. Unfortunately, he was wrong in that political developments in the country over the past 30 years have seen these politicians entrench their positions, with little possibility of being dumped in elections.

He discussed the matter with Philip Kuok (Robert Kuok's brother, and Tun Dr Ismail's "closest friend"):
I only wish that people will one day establish themselves in the professions and the business world, and then enter politics like the British politicians. [...] My message to the youth [...] is that they should not go into politics until they are financially or professionally secure (Kuok 1981, pp.217-18)
Hmm... some lessons to be learnt here? ;)
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