An ongoing anti-corruption protest in Malaysia tells us a great deal about how far Ireland has to travel before we even begin to tackle the disease of corruption.
The protesters are demanding that Prime Minister Najib Razak step down over allegations that he accepted a large payment from unnamed foreign donors.
One protester said:
There are too many government scandals. I hope the Prime Minister steps down because he has shamed the country.
The current government is robbing the nation of everything it’s got. The people need to put themselves forward to save the country.
In Ireland, while there is a great deal of awareness and anger at corruption, there is no concerted action in response to the disease.
There is no public outcry when our Prime Minister shames our country, which he frequently does. There is no public outcry when government officials/politicians rob the nation, which they frequently do.
The massive and ongoing protests against the water tax are the only indication that Irish citizens have had enough of corruption. And it is heartening to see that these protests are rapidly evolving into open rebellion against the rot in our political/administrative system.
One of the reasons for the corruption in Malaysia is the fact that the current political party has been in power for nearly six decades. The situation is similar in Ireland. We have a political class, (a ruling elite) principally composed of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour who have been ruling and robbing the nation since independence.
The emergence of several new parties and a host of independents coupled with growing anger among ordinary citizens is a clear indication that this old corrupt regime is heading for the bin of history.
The starkest difference between Ireland and Malaysia is that, in Malaysia, there is an anti-corruption agency. The agency is strongly backing the allegations of corruption made by the protesters.
Not only is there no such agency in Ireland but corruption as an issue is not even officially recognised. To my knowledge corruption doesn’t even appear as a statistic in Garda crime returns.
In fact, in Ireland, there is no independent authority whatsoever that has the power to challenge corruption within state organisations. All so-called regulatory/law enforcement agencies, including the Gardai, operate under the control and influence of our corrupt political system.