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Sunday, September 29, 2013

MALAYSIA OR 'MALANG-SIA': Black market booms, vice, criminals never had it so good

MALAYSIA OR 'MALANG-SIA': Black market booms, vice, criminals never had it so good
Toots (the nickname of a Myanmar migrant worker) sits behind the cashier’s counter at a cybercafé in Taman Kosas, Ampang. Only this is no ordinary cybercafé. It is a playground for many people of all walks of life to gamble illegally on the Internet.
During the weekdays, Toots revealed that his cybercafé casino rakes in around RM60,000 to RM80,000 a day and on weekends between RM100,000 to RM120,000 a day. The owner of the premises is reputed to be a member of a gangland triad operating a number of cyber cafe casinos in the Klang Valley.
Not only through activities such as these but through money-laundering, illegal deposit taking and a range of scams, the Malaysian black market economy is thriving and a guesstimate puts the worth of the economy as running into multi-billions of ringgit.
This is a crying shame and a great monetary loss to the people and government of Malaysia besides perpetuating crime on a wide scale for which enforcement is lacking as there is evidence of links between Barisan Nasional (BN) politicians and personnel of law enforcement agencies with these criminals.
The underworld vice-kingpins have never had it as good as now as they are having a whale of a time propagating their vices such as drugs, prostitution and illegal gambling. They are able to do all this despite the high profile focus on combating vices by law enforcement agencies that are of no or little effect.
The reason is due to the fact that certain Police DiRaja Malaysia officers and other government authorities are supposedly on the payroll of these triads and gangsters. This is why Malaysia’s push to eradicate crime is not only seen as feeble but causing the black market economy to thrive.
Why the black market is thriving?
From the sale of illegal DVDs to imitation clothing and accessories of branded items to the widespread availability of contraband, Malaysia’s black market is thriving and depriving the government of much needed revenue which can otherwise be used to develop the standard of living of people.
While education awareness programs on the black market economy is lacking, worse still, most Malaysians consider the black market trading as the same as the legal economy, and therefore have no qualms about participating in the buying and selling of goods and services illegally.
Not only is the cost of items on the black market cheaper, it is also supposedly to be of sufficiently good quality that people opt for it readily even without thinking. There is danger in such activity as it promotes lawlessness in business and economic activity which hurts and backfires in the long run.
The Malaysian government, while aware of the ongoing and booming black market economy, is quite helpless and clueless as to how to go about eradicating this menace. The prime reason is because a significant number of civil servants, those in law enforcement agencies, are working hand-in-glove with these black marketers.
While the black market economy has been in existence for many years, it is only in the New Millennium that it has taken off to act as a counter economy attracting hordes of people all over the country. This phenomenon is therefore not new.
It doesn’t help that the Malaysian culture and emphasis is to be on the lookout for cheap, shoddy counterfeit goods and services. Not that Malaysians are a stingy lot, but by their great support shown to the black market economy it means that their emphasis is on being practical rather than being concerned about being right and within the law.
But the process of being right and proper is something that comes with a true education. The fact that the Malaysian education system fails to recognize these truths has contributed largely to Malaysian consumers having little concern for value and quality opting most of the time for make-do goods and services rather than the authentic and genuine.
While black markets are having a field day, showing no signs of slowing down, and capturing a big section of the overall economy, there needs to be mechanisms, strategies and ways and means put in place to ensure the country does not descend into a rogue nation or failed state.
Scaling down the black market economy
There are several ways Malaysia can begin to scale down or reduce greatly its dependence on a black market economy. While these measures are merely suggestions and ideas, the people and government of Malaysia must come together to arrive at ways and means to counter the black market.
While education awareness programs are a long term measure and will take time to pay off, the most immediate measure the government can resort to is to declare an “amnesty” for black marketers, a period of grace within which they should be allowed, without any threat of persecution, to whitewash their money.
This is about the best solution for the government to go about handling the matter. Alternatively, they will want to flex their muscles and use the hard approach of cracking down on black market offenders wherever they may be.
But this requires political will, which is sadly lacking, and if there was enforcement carried out in the first place, the black market economy will not be growing by leaps and bounds as it is now.
While Prime Minister Najib Razak is busy staving off accusations of alleged murder and corruption and electoral rigging, there is hardly enough time and space for him to contend with affairs of the state. He is besieged and reeling under the impact of these attacks against him and his wife and is fighting for his own political survival.
It does not help that his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, comes across as being void of any leadership skills and qualities causing him to be described as a “penghulu kampong” or village headman, a person who lacks the attributes for a senior political position.
Malaysia is a developing nation and can ill afford to have these kinds of leaders who have no political will and clout to stem the tide of the black marketers. The nation needs capable leaders who can deliver and perform, of which BN-UMNO sorely lacks.
IF BN-UMNO have hardly any Malay leaders for the top political leadership of the country, Malaysians should learn to look across the political divide to the egalitarian, multi-racial and multi-religious composition of leaders in PKR, DAP and Parti Pas under the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) banner.
With their willingness to ensure meritocracy, fair play and justice and the full tenets and obligations of democracy, what more are Malaysians waiting for? They should ditch BN and their never ending corrupt ploys that are destroying the country.
With BN, Malaysia has come to be known as “Malang-sia” (Malay for “an unfortunate country”).
Malaysia Chronicle

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