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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Face the truth: criticisms won’t destroy the country

People are not making irresponsible noises; they're genuinely expressing their concerns
By TK Chua
Many have often accused me for giving opinions which are not empirical or factually-based. I may be guilty of that, but I do believe that I have the qualifications and experience to form opinions based on observations made, so long as my opinions are not tainted with personal interests or prejudices.
But what about academicians and university professors: is it acceptable for them to make cursory observations and form sweeping opinions? How would that affect their academic credentials and university reputation?
Recently, university professor Dr Othman Yong reportedly said that the country’s problems today stemmed from “noises” and many “outlandish remarks” made by irresponsible parties. In particular, the repeated allegations made against 1MDB had affected sentiments and caused the ringgit to plunge, and also negatively affected the government’s efforts to stimulate the economy. According to him, the ringgit should rightly be traded between RM3.60 and RM3.70 against the US dollar, if only people stopped making negative comments.
The professor must ask himself this question: how do we confront and stop the people from making “negative” comments about the country and its management? Surely we can’t ask the people to stop talking when there are burning issues which are likely to affect their wellbeing.
Whether we like it or not, the best way to handle repeated allegations is to disclose the truth, nothing but the whole truth. 1MDB is a national investment company, not a national security outfit. What is the difficulty in disclosing the truth for the benefit of all?
I don’t think the people have that much time and energy to continue harping on something that is not true or credible. Many of us are genuinely concerned with valuable government assets being siphoned off, massive amount of debts being raised, devious “funding” being staged and the truth being compromised.
The professor must be confused; the people are not making irresponsible noises or outlandish remarks. They are genuinely expressing their concerns.
The professor must also try to get this right: the ringgit will not recover once the people have stopped making noises. The ringgit will only recover when the authorities have satisfactorily answered all the allegations and resolved the malfeasance and wrong doings.
I have yet to come across a country or an economy that was destroyed because the people talked too much or made criticisms without basis. On the contrary, I have seen many “failed states” simply because the authorities tolerated no criticism or dissent even though they were hopelessly and miserably managed.
While writing this piece, I chanced upon the latest statement from Arul Kanda, the president of 1MDB, to debate or converse with Tony Pua without any prior conditions. This is good news. This is what the people want – the truth and the sequence of events that happened in 1MDB. This one debate or conversation may not settle the negativity towards 1MDB, but it is a step in the right direction.
TK Chua is an FMT reader.

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