Malaysia has made an appearance in the influential Time Magazine again, this time with the dubious distinction of being among a list of five countries whose corruption scandals are being highlighted.

Malaysia appears second in the list, after Brazil, and before South Africa, China, and Russia.

The list does not appear to be ranked in a particular order, but instead gives examples of how each country's corruption scandals lend insights into its politics.

The article's description of Malaysia however, is still unflattering compared to other countries on the list.

It zoomed in on the 1MDB scandal, and issues surrounding the alleged RM2.6 billion donation into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's personal bank account.

The author Ian Bremmer said that Malaysia is under a de facto one-party rule by Umno, and hence Najib owes his position to his party rather than the people, which is great news for him because his approval rating is a mere 23 percent.

“He (Najib) has spent the last half-decade strengthening his position within Umno, and the past year since the 1MDB scandal broke purging his party of potential adversaries.

“This past summer, Najib fired his attorney-general (Abdul Gani Patail), who had been leading the 1MDB investigation.

“Malaysia exemplifies how corruption drives can fall short in countries with a single political party and weak governing institutions,” the article reads.

Malaysia's situation is contrasted with that of Brazil, where dozens of politicians are being investigated over a corruption scandal including former president Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva, making Lula the fourth living former Brazilian president being probed, out of five former presidents still alive.

The current Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is perceived to be guilty by association, and some three million people took to the streets demanding for his removal from office.

Despite the turmoil, the article notes, the Brazilian stock market surged 18 percent following news of Lula's detention and speculation that Rousseff may be impeached.

“Brazil is a country with a genuinely independent and empowered investigator capable of putting the country’s most powerful under a public microscope.

“Anti-corruption drives can create political chaos in the short-term, but they can benefit the country in the long-term if sunlight is used properly as a disinfectant,” the report said.

The report also compares Malaysia's situation against South Africa, where the South African court is hearing a case to reinstate 783 corruption charges against the country's president Jacob Zuma.

However, the report also notes that like Malaysia, Zuma's position comes from control of his political party rather than directly from the people.

“Don’t expect South Africa’s anti-corruption push to amount to much because this is a country where investigators are empowered to bring damaging allegations to light, but not to enforce their judgements.

“Zuma will probably survive through the end of his term in 2019,” the report said.

Notoriety reaching new heights

Separately, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang lamented Malaysia's slide from being a 'poster boy' promising to become a successful, multi-racial developed country, to being on its way to become a failed and rogue state.

In a statement today, he said even the Parliament has failed to play a meaningful role, as questions about the scandal are not allowed to be raised or simply refused an answer.

Now, Malaysia's notoriety has reached new heights with Time magazine's citation, Lim added.

“Only Malaysian citizens, regardless of race, religion, region, politics, age or gender, standing as one to save Malaysia holds out the hope of checking Malaysia hurtling down the slippery slope of a failed state and a rogue state.

“The question is whether the majority of the Malaysians will rise up to the challenge this time to democratically and constitutionally save Malaysia,” he said

Meanwhile, on China, the magazine article highlights the country's anti-corruption drive, and how this proved politically useful to its president Xi Jinping.

“Aside from dealing with the country’s real corruption problem, the campaign aims to restore public confidence in the ruling party at a time when the Chinese economy is slowing.

“It also helps that the anti-graft crackdown ensures that Xi can sideline opponents of his political agenda ahead of next year’s leadership transition in which five of seven members of the politburo standing committee, the pinnacle of the country’s leadership, are scheduled to be replaced,” it said.

As for Russia, the article's description of the country was short and succinct.

"This is a country where corruption investigations are tools used by one political/business faction to cut into another’s market share.

“These are not the kinds of investigations that strengthen a country or its economy,” it said.


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