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groupThe meltdown of Malaysian institutions

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
 | APRIL 15, 2014

There was a time Malaysia’s civil service was the envy of many, playing an important role in the country’s rapid industrialisation. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, April 15, 2014.

There was a time when Malaysia was known for its institutions – a civil service that facilitated rapid development from an agrarian economy to an industrialised one, a judiciary that was held in high esteem of the Commonwealth, and a military that defeated a communist insurgency.

Today, more than 50 years as a nation spanning from Perlis to Sabah, we see ineptitude and incompetency, a complete meltdown of Malaysian institutions.The Attorney-General now farms out cases to an Umno lawyer; the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) leads an organisation which does not act when a High Court rules; the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) suffers a credibility deficit; and the air force has not covered itself with any glory.

So who do Malaysians turn to in time of need?

Not any of the above, it appears. Sad but true.

The saga of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared with 239 people on board on March 8, has confirmed what Malaysians have suspected for a long time. That there is not much meritocracy and thinking going on in the civil service.

The authorities, from the minister downwards, have yet to explain what happened in the crucial hours after MH370 was found missing. A CNN and BBC television report yesterday showed Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein avoiding the question.

Can the civil aviation sector trust the DCA to do the right thing immediately after a flight vanishes from the radar screens? Why wasn’t the air force told that a jet was missing? Why wasn’t plane maker Boeing told immediately? Why didn’t the air traffic control respond to their Vietnamese counterparts when told that there was no contact with the Boeing 777-200ER that was on its way to Beijing?

Why the silence?

These days, Malaysia just has bad jokes passing off as the civil service, police force, military and the public prosecutor. This is the meltdown of institutions that had shaped the country from its formative years to the Asian tiger that it once was.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) also has to explain how it defends the country’s airspace throughout the day. Yes, we have brave men and women in uniform keeping watch but a mysterious blip on the radar moving east to west was left unmolested.

Not even hailed by radio, let alone scrambling jets to check on the blip. Or even to ask the DCA and air traffic control if they were also seeing the blip.

Does the RMAF have fighter jets on standby? How many can fly these days apart from those used for parades, air shows and F1 races?

The IGP has decided to play marriage counsellor to a divorced couple rather than enforce the law after the ex-husband forcibly took away his son from the ex-wife’s legal custody.

Does the IGP or anyone else in the police force know the law and the offence that was committed, or do they assume there is a conflict in the civil and Shariah law that they cannot take any action?

Can anyone cite religion and get away with a crime? How can people trust the police to enforce the law passed by lawmakers elected by the people?

Where is the Attorney-General in all of this? Is it more important for him to go to London to figure out who will have custody of the MH370 black box, once found, rather than stay back in the country and decide on whether to prosecute or take action against a man for abducting his child from his ex-wife’s legal custody?

Or just outsource some jobs to an Umno lawyer – from defending the Registrar of Societies (RoS) in a judicial review brought by the  DAP to prosecuting opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his sodomy appeal.

Is the Attorney-General’s decision to outsource some work a tacit confirmation and acknowledgment that there is no talent left in the A-G Chambers to do the work?

And is there any talent also left in the civil service, police force and military?

Malaysia’s civil service was the envy of many – from working on poverty eradication and affirmative action policies to industrialisation and a respected judiciary and prosecution.

They did more with fewer resources and lesser people then. But they had quality talent back then.

These days, Malaysia just has bad jokes passing off as the civil service, police force, military and the public prosecutor. This is the meltdown of institutions that had shaped the country from its formative years to the Asian tiger that it once was.

It might take a generation to possibly set things right with these institutions.

Or is that just a hope that is fading as fast as the chance of hearing another ping in the southern Indian Ocean? – April 15, 2014.

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