Monday, January 7, 2013
Ethnicity And Corruption by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar - Yayasan 1 Malaysia
There is no correlation between ethnicity and corruption. This is a simple truth that has been proven over and over again right through history.
Take Malaysia as a case in point. The corrupt can be found in all communities. Those who have been convicted in court for this crime from the earliest days of our Independence come from different ethnic backgrounds. Some are from the public sector; others are from the private sector. The givers and takers of bribes --- and the go-betweens --- constitute a multi-ethnic community! This is the incontrovertible evidence before our eyes.
And yet there are Malaysians who foolishly, and perhaps even deliberately, attribute corruption to a particular community. They are wittingly, or unwittingly, reinforcing a malicious communal sentiment. Communal sentiments of this sort are a huge barrier to national unity. They run deep and wide in our society.
It is a shame that when such sentiments are expressed openly --- as was done recently by a political neophyte from an opposition party --- very few within the educated segment of Malaysian society are prepared to publicly denounce such narrow, shallow thinking. A couple of individuals from the community that was targeted spoke up but hardly any intellectual or analyst from the other communities was incensed enough to condemn the politician’s outrageous remark linking corruption to a community. What is really disappointing is the deafening silence of those commentators and activists who on other occasions are quick to expose any alleged act of corruption or to censure the slightest hint of a communal slur.
Why the silence on this occasion? Is it because they too subscribe to the politician’s erroneous link? Were they quietly delighted that the politician had smeared his own community with such a reckless comment --- a comment that they would not be able to make on their own, given ethnic sensitivities?
It is important to raise these questions because one of the major obstacles to national integration is the tendency among many of the educated to subordinate fact and reason to
what is essentially a communal consideration which is invariably camouflaged as a concern for integrity or justice or human rights.
It is imperative that educated Malaysians, whatever their ethnic affiliation, overcome their concealed, camouflaged communalism and address national challenges with honesty and sincerity if they are earnest about strengthening the sinews of solidarity that sustain this multi-ethnic nation of ours.