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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Corruption, collusion and collision - the cost of 1MDB

1MDB is a four letter word that screams at Malaysian with an expletive. I don’t have to spell it out loud what that is.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak may think Malaysian voters cannot think of the enormity of the billions.
They are simply caught up in vice-like living conditions where the cost of living are higher, while their wages are flat.
But 1MDB is literally a middle finger to democracy, and a thumbs-up to its base version of a kleptocracy.
Let’s assume each Jaguar is worth a RM1 million. And if takes one third of a million to train a doctor in a top school in Russia, over a whole stretch of seven years.
By borrowing RM44 billion, and losing all of them, it is akin to losing 44,000 Jaguars? at RM1 million each.
It is also similar to telling 132,000 doctors in Malaysia that they cannot be sent to the best but cheapest medical schools any more over the next seven years.
That’s a whole lost generation of doctors, who can otherwise come back to Malaysia to serve and nourish those who are sick.
And, if they want to teach in the medical faculties, Malaysia would not be in lack of medical lecturers as an army of 132,000 lecturers stand ready to teach.
That’s Russia. If we use India as a counterpoise, whose fees are cheaper than Russia by a factor of half, the RM44 billion we lost could have been used to train 264,000 Malaysian doctors in India.
If we send them to Indonesia, whose fees are even cheaper by half of India, the number of medical doctors we can train in Indonesia would be 528,000 doctors.
And, if we train them locally, the RM44 billion would be in circulation in Malaysian economy, with the attendant rise in healthcare, better standards of living and potentially spawn a new health tourism sector that is even more powerful.
Instead, grand corruption creates collusion - as those allegedly on the take do not want their massive ill-gotten wealth to be shared.
When their wealth is not shared, popular frustration will grow when their wages are stagnant, all the while inflation kept rising each year to neutralise their hard-earned gains.
This collision course has emerged in the form of Bersih against the government, not once, but on five separate occasions. But the government of the day still remain oblivious.

So, if 1MDB has zero link to the plight of the people, or, the people somehow cannot understand, then Bersatu stands ready to educate them - on the opportunity cost of not being able to use the money to educate their children or provide basic healthcare.

DR RAIS HUSSIN is a supreme council member and head of policy and strategy of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu). -Mkini

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