Jan Leow's Press Blog

Are our authorities getting more corrupt?

For the part that our current Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi was on the go to go after corruption in the country after he was elected several years ago. It was a much lauded and welcome move to clean up the government act. After a year or two of very active cleaning up, it has become very quiet lately. There doesn’t seem to be much news about rooting out corruption lately and worse, as a man in the street I could see that corruption is rearing up its ugly head again.

During the years when our good old Prime Minister decided to go after corruption, I could see that the local police on running so called “operation” to nab errant traffic offenders was negligible. When traffic congestion arises, they would do their duty to relieve the traffic situation. But now, I seldom see them doing their duty to ease the congestion during after office rush hour. Instead of helping to ease the traffic, I see them nabbing people instead, which in turn leads to more congestion.

Rush hour traffic is no joke. It is very stressful and often times the traffic lights cannot cope with the amount of traffic and there are times when the light sequence is badly timed or don’t even change to green due to faulty devices. What was a motorist to do but to go against the system or he would just sit in the car waiting forever for the traffic light to never turn green?

Granted that the police force pay is very low and they are not allowed to work part time elsewhere to supplement their income. That is definitely not helpful in encouraging a clean force image forcing to them do to so called “op” to supplement income. Mind you, we as motorist do not want to simply break the law, but somehow inevitably if we do follow every rule as indicated we would be traveling at snails pace!

But this is not my main gripe, but rather there are a lot of underlying corruptions which as an everyday person may not get to know. Our media is not completely open as there are some form of censorship whether it is self imposed on government impose I do not know. However there are independent news web sites which do not fall under the control of government and voicing out daily about the Malaysian government imperfections and giving out very vocal opinions. Much to the displeasure of the government, the authorities has decided to go after them and close down their web sites. So much for freedom of information.

And recently, my customer has an unusual problem. Granted we need to take care of our environment to dispose of waste in an ethical manner. Unfortunately the local council enforcement seems to be making up rules as they go along. Packaging for raw materials cannot be termed as an environmental hazard; after all it is just made of craft paper and a layer of plastic which should not pose any environmental contamination. Granted the plastic layer is not good to environment but what of household plastic bags? Will the authorities now go after each and every house and tell us we cannot throw out our garbage in plastic bags nor any plastic material that we don’t want?

But the gall of this is, the authorities want our customer to use their “pre-approved” disposal vendors for disposing of these so called “hazardous” packaging bags. Now wouldn’t that make you think and read between the lines. By using the “pre-approved” disposal vendors, it means charging a fee for disposal and thus the authorities can get a side income out of it. ie instead of a clear cut handout from supposedly misdemeanor, the people who are receiving money is getting it indirectly from the vendors. Perhaps there are loopholes in the rules and regulation and the authorities instead of asking money directly to get approval now uses other means to get their additional side income.

I even heard this incredulous story about some factory lots where before they can get their certificate of fitness or what we call CF before a building structure can be declared fit to be occupied, the authorities enforce an unknown or perhaps a made up rule saying that in order to get certification approved they must beautify their compound with plants and greenery using their list of “pre-approved” landscaper. Isn’t that suspicious? Why must use their “pre-approved” landscaper? Why can’t we engage other gardeners? Why is there a need to beautify a garden area when clearly the issuance of CF is only related to building structure and not so much about a garden?

Like my sales agent said, “It’s just a way for them to find a loop hole to gain extra side income.”

Good for them, bad for us. It means more cost to the manufacturers, which in the end translate to higher priced goods and services. A higher priced goods and services will make this country less competitive against other countries who has cheaper products and services. So who will be the loser? All of us including the country image and economy as whole. Sigh!

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