Their “bebalism” — or collective stupidity, as coined by another great Malay intellectual, Professor Syed Husin Alatas, has grievously tarnished the reputation of their cohorts, and the younger generation. Kerana nila setitik rosak susu sebelanga
The Malaysian Reserve May 28,2015
The current polemic in this country, specifically on the ongoing saga relating to the financial affairs of a particular government-owned investment company and other trust agencies in Malaysia reminds me, to paraphrase what one western author wrote more than two centuries ago: “It is the worst of times, in the age of foolishness, it is incredulity, it is the season of darkness, and it is the winter of despair”.
The situation is clearly ruinous for our country. It affects not only the sentiment among the business community, but much worse, and more detrimental, is the negative repercussions on the psyche and motivation of the entire Malay community, young and old, in towns and in the kampungs, given that the scandal involves almost entirely Malay politicians and professionals, and sacrosanct Malay Muslim trust agencies.
It truly saddens me; the betrayal by these Malay professionals, who are the trustees for the community, have supremely failed to protect the interests of the community. It is unimaginable that they have the audacity to betray the trust of the poor Malays who painstakingly saved their hardearned savings with the sole aim of financing for their pilgrimage.
Regardless of the heavy hand of sinister influence and pressures assumed to be exerted by the gamut of players in the political world, these professionals’ first and only fiduciary responsibility is to exercise the duty of care in the best interest of their depositors and stakeholders. They are ultimately responsible to no one else but Allah and their community. That is the true measure of their mettle as Muslim professionals.
One is prompted to ask if these “guardians” have an ounce of morals? From their irresponsible acts, which are currently being uncovered and peeled like onions, they are akin to slowly driving nails into the Malay’s flesh. They are, in actual fact, traitors to this nation.
The money lost can be recovered, those assets that have been sold can be substituted, but the loss of trust and pride are priceless, and possibly will take a very long time to be redeemed.
Worse, it has a negative and long-lasting impact on the future of the honest, educated, and hard-working, Bumiputera professionals and managers.
We have come a long way in developing Malay professionals and managers, but the ill-advised action of the select few has destroyed what we toiled so hard to achieve. The great men of yesteryears sacrificed and invested their sweat, tears, and blood to be successful, and to become a role model and inspiration to the poor and underprivileged Malays.
The Malay professional class was truly professional then; although the majority depended on the public sector, a sizeable group managed to seek independence in the private sector, even outside the country working for major banks and corporations, as well as consultancies.
Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH) is a classic example. The idea of the establishment of the institution came from among the luminaries of Malay thinkers and intellectuals — a real hero — Royal Professor Ungku Aziz.
And the first MD of the first board of management of LTH was the highly respected Kedah-born Malay professional Tan Sri Hanafiah Hussain who was the first Malay to become a chartered accountant, and the founder of the first Bumiputera accounting firm.
They, and other Malay professionals then blazed the path for LTH to be not only one of the richest and profitable trust agencies in the country, but one of the most respected Haj institutions in the Muslim world.
The same goes for Permodalan Nasional Bhd. Its first chairman was another highly respected Malay — the late Tun Ismail Ali, the first Malaysian to be appointed as governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, and once the ED of the World Bank.
We had class, flair, and panache in those days.
However, the current leadership of these institutions are nowhere near when measured against those great Malay professionals and managers. The current cohorts, albeit not all, are in reality, in full frankness, individuals sorely wanting in ethical principles, moral convictions, in observance of tenets of good governance and selfless service to the nation. They have let us all down miserably. A disgrace to the nation, and, in particular, to the Malays. Their meek rebuttal or justifications are an insult to the entire Malay community.
While it may be perfectly understandable and unsurprising about those acts pulled off by these politically-appointed individuals or pseudo-professionals, the blatant betrayal by the professionals in these now tainted institutions cannot be forgiven.
Separation must be made between genuine and pseudo-professionals. The latter are not professionals but have been put to run these important, and sacred institutions, for none other than political reason. We have seen many government-linked investment companies, and government-linked companies, led by this kind of people, instead of real professionals. The former, while they are truly professionals, are sometimes no better, given their abject poverty in morals and ethics.
Because of them, the entire Malay professionals are being seen as untrustworthy, incompetent, and a slave to their political master. Their “bebalism” — or collective stupidity, as coined by another great Malay intellectual, Professor Syed Husin Alatas, has grievously tarnished the reputation of their cohorts, and the younger generation. Kerana nila setitik rosak susu sebelanga.
To me, this is the worst outcome of the entire saga. Not the impact in terms of monetary or financial repercussions, but the long-term damaging psychological and sociological impact on Malays.
Is there any possibility of redemption left? Is there hope for the Malays? Yes, we can do two things to regain back the trust.
First, the entire top management and Board of these tainted institutions must resign, or be sacked immediately, and if any legal transgressions have been committed, they must be brought to justice. We should not have much sympathy for them.
Second, and with immediate effect, only those Malay professionals with high integrity and who are well credentialled, with demonstrated capability, hardworking, and honest, should be allowed to serve in the position of responsibility in these trust institutions.
No politicians, no court-jesters, no shady characters, and definitely no inefficient and corrupt individuals should ever again be allowed to run these trust agencies. No twoways about it if we are serious to regain and re-build the trust and the confidence again.
Importantly, the trustees of this nation and its institutions must not forget their amanah, and they must not betray the heavy trust reposed upon them, nor take advantage of their position.
It’s worth reminding what Sheik Haji Abdullah Fahim sagely said half a century ago: Jangan pula ada pemimpin kita mengaut kekayaaan di atas belakang rakyat...sesiapa yang berjuang dengan nama Allah dan berniat baik sentiasa dalam keredhaanNya, tetapi, sesiapa yang lupakan niat, khianat, dan tamak akan dimurkai Allah, akhirnya menjadi hina.