Friday, January 30, 2009

Of Defects and Defections

The Bota state assemblyman ditches Umno for PKR. And soon after the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission announces that it'll investigate if there were elements of corruption in the defection.

I suppose in the end it comes down to public perception. There is a genuine beef (sorry, I'm still in a keong hei fatt choy mood) if corruption is the reason for a defection, and there is a real concern if a particular elected representative no longer represents the voters' choice.

It boils down to two things: first whether the voters voted for a party or a person. I would argue that voters should vote for the person, because, well, if they registered a donkey with a party emblem, would one vote for the donkey? Party affiliation is important and part of the identity of the candidate, but my first concern is, well, whether you can walk on two legs and not bray incessantly. If an assemblyman honestly feels he can serve his community better under a different party, then so be it really. If an assemblyman is given an post because his talents are better respected and put to use, then fine. If the post is purely as a bribe, well, then not-so-fine.

The second is whether you believe that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission acts fairly. Plain and simple. If you do, then in all interest of fairness, well they should investigate all allegations, and no one - not the Bota assemblyman, or for that matter, the Umno supreme council member who was arrested for money politics - is to be presumed guilty, or tainted with the hint of guilt, until the full legal process has its day.

According to The Star, the MACC's chief commissioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan said: "At the moment I can't say if any report has been made or not in Perak but if there are elements of corruption, we will investigate."

First of all, if there ARE elements of corruption, you should CHARGE the culprit. If there MIGHT be elements of corruption, you should INVESTIGATE.

Second is that I saw the original comments (in Malay) on the midnight news, and - here I could be mistaken - I heard the addition of: "maybe (there are elements of corruption)... we will see." Which, if I heard correctly, treads rather ambigiously over the line of the presumption of guilt.

In any civilized society it is important to have a system of accountability, of which a trusted and impartial anti-corruption organization is important. A battle of innuendo, of 'maybe he's corrupt now that he's defected'... how civilized that is, is a different matter entirely.

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