MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

MOF recovers another RM1.9b stolen 1MDB funds, total now at RM16.05b


The Finance Ministry today announced that it has recovered another RM1.9 billion in stolen 1MDB funds.

It said the funds were recovered with the help of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) which remitted the money to Malaysia's Asset Recovery Trust Account.

“This recovery would not have been achieved without the excellent cooperation between the government of Malaysia and the United States government, particularly with the DOJ.

"On behalf of the government of Malaysia, we would like to thank the US government and look forward to the continued cooperation between us," Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said in a statement.

This latest recovery brings the total stolen 1MDB funds that have been seized and repatriated to RM16.05 billion.

The sum is being used to service the loans taken out by 1MDB and its former subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd, the funds from which were substantially misappropriated under the previous BN government.

The Finance Ministry said to date, RM12.4 billion and RM3.1 billion have been utilised from the trust account to repay the debt owed by 1MDB and SRC International, respectively.

Despite this, it said 1MDB and SRC International still owe RM39.8 billion and RM2.57 billion, respectively.

Zafrul said the recovered sum will only be enough to cover 1MDB and SRC International's debts until 2022.

"The current balance is sufficient to service 1MDB’s debt obligations for 2021 and 2022 only.

"Once all recovered funds in the trust account have been utilised, the government will still have to continue bearing the burden of servicing 1MDB’s debt obligations, which were backed by the government’s guarantee and letter of support when these debts were created," Zafrul added. - Mkini

Zafrul confirms govt going after KPMG over 1MDB scandal


Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz confirmed today that the government is going after auditor KPMG over the 1MDB scandal.

This was after Damansara MP Tony Pua questioned why Putrajaya did not go after KPMG even though Deloitte, another of 1MDB's auditors, had paid RM336 million in a settlement for its role in the scandal.

Zafrul said the government is currently in negotiation with KPMG for a settlement.

"Negotiations are also currently ongoing with KPMG," he said in a statement today.

Zafrul revealed this when announcing the government had recovered another RM1.9 billion (US$452,363,867.40) in stolen 1MDB funds.

The repatriation of the fund was made possible with the help of the US Department of Justice.

To date, a total of RM16.05 billion in 1MDB funds have been recovered.

"This balance excludes the settlement amount of RM2.83 billion that will be received from the Ambank Group and RM336 million from Deloitte PLT," Zafrul (above) said.

Ambank had agreed to the settlement for failing to raise red flags when billions of ringgit entered the accounts of then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, which investigators say can be traced to 1MDB.

Deloitte acted as 1MDB's auditor from 2013 to 2016 while KPMG was the 1MDB auditor from 2010 to 2012.

1MDB had cooked its books to conceal the fact that massive loans it had taken out were misappropriated.

Zafrul said the recovered funds would be used to service the debts of 1MDB and its former subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.

However, 1MDB and SRC International are still owed RM39.8 billion and RM2.57 billion respectively, after the repayments with the recovered funds. - Mkini



Employee experience is considered to be the overall experience an employee has encountered, observed, and felt while being a part of an organization. It encompasses professional and personal relationships an employee builds over the years.

These experiences shape the health of your organization. If you value customer experience in your organization then you ought to understand the importance of employee experience, because it is your employees who help you provide the right customer experience to your clients and customers. 

Strategy to perfect employee experience.

Keep job application simple. 

A common misconception that I would like to bust right now is employee experience begins when your employees walk into your office doors on Day One. Delete! This experience begins when they start filling out the job application. Your employee experience starts with your potential candidates and how satisfied are they with the experience provided to them right from the very beginning. The best way to win over your competition is if you are able to provide these future employees with a flawless application system. One very important thing that most organizations fail to do is acknowledge the receipt of the job application. Most organizations fail to revert to a candidate if their candidature is not suitable for the advertised position and this is a big no-no! If they do not fit they need to know, so they can try elsewhere. Make it simple for them. 

Hire the right talent. 

Competition to hire the top talent is fierce as a result even the applicants are weighing their options and their expectations are higher than ever. In this race, it is bound that you will be tensed, what if you miss out on hiring the right talent? One way to attract and hire the right talent is to give them an experience above and beyond their expectations. Once you hire them, make sure your Human Resources team is in touch with them on a regular basis, make sure their concerns are attended to immediately. Ask what more can you do for them and not vice versa. 

Know your “WHY”.

Organizations that know their “why” lead from the front, and when your leadership is inspired enough it the same energy that penetrated within the organization, right from the mailroom to the CEO’s chamber. Top talent is not inspired by paychecks and simple perks or free snacks, they need inspired leadership. So don’t hold back from experiencing and expressing your why. Tout your organization’s mission and inspire confidence amongst your employees. 

Amazing onboarding experience. 

Research has shown that an amazing onboarding experience significantly increases employee engagement and employee retention. If you want your new employees to achieve long-term success in your organization make sure to give them an amazing experience right from the very beginning. You need to openly talk about the organization’s culture, the unspoken rules, and the associations he/she needs to make. Here are a few things you can do to make new employees comfortable early on: 

· Share with them login credentials, make sure their desk is set up in advance. 

· Brief them about company history, make sure they understand the vision, mission, and goals of the organization. 

· Introduce your new hire to his/her teammates, organize an ice-breaking session if that helps. 

· Set the tone right from day one. They need to know what is expected of them. 

· Make sure to arrange a one-on-one meeting with the manager so his/her key result area and responsibilities are clear.

Celebrate with your employees. 

Your employees are your assets. Take some time to acknowledge their hard work and the efforts they put in on a regular basis to make sure the organization achieves success year over year. In some organizations, they get together on Fridays to give a shoutout to an employee who has been exceptional with work over that particular week. Some might argue and say it is an extravagant use of the organization’s time and resources. But I feel a little good deed can take you far. Your employees value the simplest gesture, it does not have to be as grand as buying them a new car (although I know organizations who go that extra mile), a simple trophy or winner badge handed to them will make their day. 

Get frequent employee feedback. 

When working on improving employee experience it is important you know the greatest resource that we talking about here are the employees. Take frequent employee feedback, as them what is working and what’s not working. Keep a tab on the pulse of the organization, see how your organization is evolving. Meet with your employees outside the four walls of the office, encourage your managers to talk to the employees in a more informal setup. Give your employees the confidence their feedback is valuable and will not be used against them. 

Implement feedback.

Collecting feedback is not enough, you need to be intentional about it. Sometimes employee experience is improving upon the things that your company is already doing well. Other days it is about addressing issues or redesigning the experience altogether. Whatever you decide to do make sure you implement the feedback. Do not just collect feedback because other organizations are doing it, remember no two organizations can be identical. You will need to do things differently for your organization in order to achieve success. 

Communicate (regularly).

Nobody likes to keep speculating. As an organization, your first step to achieving effective communication is communicating on a regular basis. There are many tools in the market that facilitate business communication. Invest in some of these good tools and software which will enable you to regularly communicate with the entire organization. Make your managers responsible, ask them to speak to their teams, send out company information by email, if you are multi-locational make sure to conduct weekly meetings that involve the entire organization.  


According to a study conducted by Gallup, nearly 60% of employees said they need feedback on a regular basis to help them improve their working style. Millennials look forward to feedback, Be transparent with your employees. There is a difference between constructive feedback and criticism. Be clear on what basis and attribute their performance will be evaluated and whether their progress is where it is supposed to be. 

Be flexible. 

There is nothing more putting off than a micromanaging manager. Give your employees the liberty to think out of the box, trust your employees. If they need to work from home, give them that option or let them sit wherever they want within the office space. This not only facilitates a happy and positive atmosphere at work but also brings more autonomy to the workplace. Your employees start owning up things and this ultimately leads to employee loyalty.  

As usual, we remind you to take your Memo Plus Gold daily. It will help to keep you alert and mentally sharp. For more information or to order for Memo Plus Gold, please visit : https://oze.my.

Miros: Stop using dummy seatbelt buckle

 The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) said using the accessory can cause safety components such as airbag not to function optimally and could not protect the driver and passengers in an accident. - NSTP/LOONG WAI TING

KUALA LUMPUR: The people have been urged to stop using dummy buckle as a seatbelt alarm stopper which can cause the safety features of a car to malfunction especially in an accident.

The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) said using the accessory can cause safety components such as airbag not to function optimally and could not protect the driver and passengers in an accident.

A Miros study in 2020, showed more than 12 per cent of drivers are using the accessory and if it is not stopped now, the figure will go up further.

Concerned over the matter, Miros with the cooperation of the Transport Ministry and the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) had conducted collaborative efforts in instilling the message of road safety through a video advising the people to focus on abuse of the dummy seatbelt buckle.

"Dummy buckle is currently a fad among drivers as it is widely available at convenient stores as well as sales portal at a cheap price.

"In an accident, the dummy buckle can cause the victim to suffer chest injury from hitting the steering wheel and dashboard or being thrown out of the vehicle which would be fatal," he said in a statement today.

The video can be viewed via selected television channels as well as Miros and Finas social media sites apart from the website, https://cloud.miros.gov.my/cloud/index.php/s/TXQKWbzmLdkSbNp . - Bernama

Raya SOP: Mosques and surau must ensure strict controls, no open houses or grave visits allowed


Raya SOP: Mosques and surau must ensure strict controls, no open houses or grave visits allowedPETALING JAYA: Mosques or surau conducting Hari Raya Aidilfitri prayers on Thursday (May 13) are to abide by strict standard operating procedure (SOP) while house visits will not be allowed.

This is according to the National Security Council's (NSC) SOP for Hari Raya.

It said Hari Raya visits, grave visits and open houses are prohibited during the celebrations.

"Aidilfitri prayers at mosques and surau are allowed with not more than 50 people for mosques and surau that can cater to over 1,000 capacity.

"For mosques and surau which can accommodate fewer than 1,000, only 20 people are allowed to attend the prayers," it said.

Mosques and surau listed under Hotspot Identification for Dynamic Engagement are required to sanitise the premises, improve control and monitoring, as well as SOP compliance of worshippers, and implement closures if directed by the district health officer after risk assessment is conducted.

Mosques and surau holding prayers are required to prepare a counter at the entrance for body temperature checks, attendance records and hand sanitisation.

"Entrances should be limited to assist control. A committee should be present to control the crowd.

"The number of exits must be increased to reduce congestion," the NSC said.

Those with a body temperature of above 37.5°C or Covid-19 symptoms are not allowed to enter the mosque or surau and must seek treatment at a health facility. - Star

Peniaga lesap RM18,350 kena tipu bomoh dakwa boleh bantu kutip hutang


Mangsa mendakwa dia menyerahkan gelang emas dan wang kepada suspek atas dasar percaya memandangkan suspek semakin kerap datang ke kedainya.

KUANTAN: Seorang peniaga wanita mengalami kerugian RM18,350 selepas terpedaya dengan seorang wanita yang kononnya ejen kepada bomoh berkebolehan membantunya mengutip hutang bulan lepas.

Ketua Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah Komersial Pahang, Mohd Wazir Mohd Yusof berkata mangsa berusia 25 tahun itu mendakwa berkenalan dengan suspek dikatakan berasal dari Sarawak pada 16 April lepas di kedai kosmetiknya di sini.

“Mangsa mendakwa hubungan mereka semakin rapat apabila sering bertemu sehingga dia menceritakan masalah hutang yang dihadapinya dengan seorang lelaki yang tidak menjelaskan bayaran selepas mengambil barang.

“Suspek dikatakan memberitahu mangsa bahawa dia mengenali seorang bomoh dan mengajaknya untuk berubat bagi melembutkan hati pemiutang itu supaya segera memulangkan wang,” katanya dalam kenyataan.

Beliau berkata suspek mengarahkan mangsa membayar RM1,500 secara tunai pada 15 April lepas, sebagai upah kepada bomoh itu disusuli dengan pelbagai bayaran lain termasuk menyerahkan seutas gelang tangan emas sehingga jumlah besar RM18,350.

Mangsa mendakwa dia menyerahkan gelang emas dan wang kepada suspek atas dasar percaya memandangkan suspek semakin kerap datang ke kedainya, selain dijanjikan bahawa barang kemas dan sebahagian daripada wang itu akan dipulangkan selepas tamat ‘proses perubatan’, katanya.

“Mangsa mendakwa dia mula berasa curiga apabila orang yang berhutang dengannya masih tidak menjelaskan bayaran selepas hampir sebulan berubat, menyebabkan dia mula meminta suspek memulangkan semua gelang dan wang miliknya.

“Bagaimanapun suspek dikatakan bukan setakat enggan berbuat demikian, malah mengugut mangsa untuk menghantar santau dan memberitahu telah meletakkan bungkusan kain berwarna kuning dan merah dalam kedai mangsa.

“Mangsa yang bimbang dengan ugutan itu, telah mencari bungkusan kain itu dan apabila dibuka, mendapati ia hanya berisi cebisan kotak,” katanya.

Mohd Wazir berkata mangsa akhirnya membuat laporan di Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah (IPD) Kuantan, semalam, dan siasatan dijalankan mengikut Seksyen 420 Kanun Keseksaan yang memperuntukkan hukuman penjara maksimum 10 tahun dan sebat dan boleh didenda, jika sabit kesalahan. - FMT

US DoJ remits RM1.9bil 1MDB funds to Putrajaya


The government says its current financial balance is only sufficient to service 1MDB’s debt obligations for 2021 and 2022. (AP pic)

PETALING JAYA: The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has remitted some RM1.9 billion in funds seized in its 1MDB probe.

In a statement, the finance ministry said a total of RM16.05 billion has been returned to Putrajaya to date.

“The current balance is sufficient to service 1MDB’s debt obligations for 2021 and 2022 only. This balance excludes the settlement amount of RM2.83 billion that will be received from the Ambank Group and RM336 million from Deloitte,” said finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz.


What are the ministries doing to help those hit by MCO 3.0?


MP SPEAKS | Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) announced yesterday that the first quarter GDP growth for 2021 was negative 0.5% (compared to positive 0.7% growth during the same time period in 2020). 

This was not surprising given the implementation of the second Movement Control Order (MCO 2.0) on Jan 13. Now, with the implementation of the third MCO nationwide on May 10, the sectors and individuals who suffered the most in Q1 2021 will also continue to bleed in Q2 2021, perhaps in even more serious ways. 

What is needed now is a targeted approach by the government involving all ministries (not just the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Human Resources) to help the sectors and the individuals most affected by the lockdown in a strategic and targeted manner.

Firstly, it is important for the policymakers to understand the impact of the MCO on the various sectors and even subsectors. For example, the agriculture sector as a whole grew by 0.4% but within this sector, there is great variance. 

The rubber sector experienced a 12% contraction, the marine fishing sector and aquaculture sectors contracted by 9.6% and 5.2% respectively and even the oil palm sector contracted by 3.5%, probably because of the drop in production due to foreign workers’ work permit issues that overwhelmed the increase in crude palm oil (CPO) prices.

The manufacturing sector grew at a healthy pace of 6.6% but there are differences among the sub-sectors. For example, the textiles sector grew by only 2.1% probably because not many people were buying new clothes because of the work-from-home (WFH) policy. 

Paper products grew by 10.9% perhaps because of more packaging from online orders. Computers and electrical components grew by 9.% and 12.4% respectively, probably due to a worldwide trend of parents buying more gadgets for themselves to work from home and for their children to learn at home.

The construction sector contracted by a massive 10.4% but within this sector, the drop in civil engineering services was 28.8% while specialised construction activities actually increased by 16.9% (government infrastructure projects such as the MRT 2 and the centralised sewerage system in Hulu Langat perhaps?)

The services sector contracted by 2.4% but this masks great variances in the sectors that were badly affected and those that did quite well. 

Not surprisingly, there was a contraction in the tourism and travel-related sectors such as food and beverage (-23.2%), accommodation (-59.1%) and the transportation and storage (-16.2%) sectors. 

The private education sector fell by 10.6% probably because student enrolment both foreign and local were negatively affected. Even private healthcare services fell by 4.7% probably because people were wary of going to private hospitals because of fears about Covid-19 infection. 

'6R' strategy helpful

On the other hand, the finance and insurance sectors (+11.3% and +11.2% respectively) experienced healthy growth due to spare cash from I-Sinar withdrawals being used to purchase stocks and upgrade existing insurance plans and money that would have been spent on travel were spent on financial investments and insurance instead.

Understanding the MCO’s impact on the different sectors should lead the government to adopt a differentiated, strategic and targeted approach towards helping the most negatively impacted industries and people in these industries. 

For example, fishermen with smaller boats may not have been able to go out to catch fish especially if their foreign workers had gone back to Indonesia before MCO 1.0 or 2.0 and could not return back to Malaysia after the end of the lockdown. 

Their incomes would have been badly affected by the MCO. On the other hand, those fishermen with bigger boats and with better networking with fish wholesalers, some of whom were doing good business selling directly to the consumers during the lockdown, would not require much assistance.

Similarly, the drop in overall palm oil production would not hurt the big players since they have ample reserves and some of them may have seen their profits increase because of the hike in CPO prices due to the supply shocks. 

On the other hand, smallholders would have suffered more because of foreign workers labour issues and they could not be as well-positioned as the big boys to capitalise on the increase in palm oil prices.

In construction, many of the big construction companies are still attempting to finish their existing projects but will be holding off from launching new projects. Those with sufficient cash reserves would not be that badly affected especially since cash flow may still be funded by the financial institutions via progress payments made on existing sales. 

Some civil engineers may be out of work because the lack of new projects means that some of the work that they do (piling, foundation, etc.) would not be required during the later stages of building and construction.

With this in mind, the prime minister should then direct each ministry to come up with its own strategy and plan to assist, restructure and later revive each of the sectors and sub-sectors under their purview. 

The 6R strategy employed by the Ministry of Finance under Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz is a helpful guide namely: 

1. Resolve to contain Covid-19 

2. Resilience (through the Prihatin economic stimulus packages) 

3. Restart the economy systematically 

4. Recover (via short and medium-term plans) 

5. Revitalise the economy holistically 

6. Reform the underlying structure of the economy to promote growth post-MCO.

The question that remains is this – what is the strategy of all the other ministries to take care of the sectors under their purview, perhaps using the 6R strategy employed by the Ministry of Finance (MOF)? 

I am ready to offer my services to any ministry (free-of-charge) to discuss possible strategies on how to assist, revive and recover their respective sectors and sub-sectors. - Mkini

ONG KIAN MING is MP for Bangi and DAP's assistant political education director. He can be reached at im.ok.man@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

Veterans' political party - long-term threat to civilian control of military?


A group of armed forces veterans have formed a political party called Parti Kemakmuran Negara (PKN).

They are seeking recognition from the Registrar of Societies so they can field in GE15 some 50 candidates they have identified in seats which have military camps and a large concentration of retired personnel.

They say the main reason for PKN’s formation is to fight for quicker resolution of long-standing issues concerning salary and pensions.

Also, another motive is that PKN is dismayed at the current state of national governance. They imply they can do better, claiming to have capable and highly educated people in their ranks.

Presumably, these people should be given a chance to prove their mettle.

In a democracy, there is nothing wrong with political activism by interest groups. And the armed forces veterans are indeed that - an interest group.

Like trade unions or any other interest group, they have a right to enter the political fray. But there is something unsettling about armed forces veterans inserting themselves into the political arena as a separate party, as distinct to individual veterans contesting as candidates under the banner of existing political parties.

This may be owing to the notion that the armed forces, in a democracy, are regarded - and properly so - as politically neutral.

When and if veterans of the forces band together as a distinct political party, won’t they in time incubate a threat to the neutrality of the services and to a cardinal tenet of a democracy, which is civilian control of the military?

Malaysia has never had a problem like a politically intrusive military.

In the immediate aftermath of the May 13 riots, members of the military brass suggested to then prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman that they be given charge of the nation until such time order was restored.

Fortunately, the Tunku sought advice on the military’s offer from the home affairs minister, Ismail Abdul Rahman than whom - in an extremely troubled time - there was no more clear-eyed seer.

Ismail told the Tunku that once he ceded control of the country to the military, “You can forget about getting it back.”

General Ne Win’s seizure of power in Myanmar in 1962 and the military’s recent brutal reimposition of despotism over civilian rule by Ne Win’s current-day legatee, Min Aung Hlaing, is an object lesson in the wisdom of Ismail’s warning to the Tunku.

In the history of government-military relations in Malaysia, there has not been any instance of civilians having to tell the military to back off.

Save perhaps in one case in 1984, when then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was obliged to hurry generals Zain Hashim and Jaafar Onn into early retirement because of the duo’s sympathy with the rulers’ position in the constitutional amendments crisis that pitted Mahathir against the rulers.

Otherwise, there has not been any instance wherein the civilian authority and the military in Malaysia have had disputes over their separate jurisdictions.

Still, the spotted history of military men dabling in politics has not been a happy one.

There was a time, in the prolonged cause celebre that followed Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking from Umno and government in September 1998, there were cases of retired generals joining the political fray.

Some veterans joined PAS and were shaping, like a few retired diplomats and senior civil servants - all riled up over Anwar’s travails - to contest in GE10 that was held in November 1999. But matters did not pan out that way.

It was only in GE13 in May 2013 that an appreciable number of military veterans plunged into the electoral fray, with some fielded as PKR candidates.

They lost except for an admiral who won in the Lumut parliamentary seat.

The most notable thing about those who were fielded and lost in GE13 is that after showing a lot of enthusiasm in the campaign to get elected, they vanished, post-hustings, into the ether, not to be heard of again.

The disappeared did not say why they no longer, presumably, had any appetite for the fray. Safe it was to assume these spit and polish men found politics a messy business. About the only similarity between politics and the military is that both occupations put a premium on night vision - the ability to see in the dark.

A skilled politician needs that vision so that he can lever the unspoken motives of collaborators (and even adversaries) to the advantage of aims, policies and programmes he or she is striving to attain.

Night vision is a wholly different thing to a military man. To him, it is the ability to anticipate and prepare for the imponderables that can upset well-laid plans.

If a military man wants to take the political plunge, it is better he does it within the contours of a political party rather than form a separate party for the achievement of specific objectives pertaining to the military. - Mkini

TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for more than four decades.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

What Covid rule-breakers are trying to tell us


If he could, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah would choose not to appear in front of public. He dislikes being the centre of attention, rejects the “hero” label, and he has not made a press conference in over two months. Until now.

Behind the face mask lies a battered man. After the long-drawn battle with the virus, the last thing he wanted to see was record highs of infected cases and death counts. We are nowhere near victory.

He started his press conference with the usual reporting. He warned us of the danger of celebrating too early and how India’s “tsunami” provided us a lesson.

“On 7th March, the leaders of India declared that the management and control of Covid-19 was very good and they would see the end of Covid in India. That was when gathering happened near the beaches, gathering happened for religious purposes,” he said.

“Secondly, they had five state elections… without social distancing and the wearing of face masks. That’s where the spread occurred.”

Noor Hisham showed a rare sign of anger when he talked about the “extraordinary times” we are living in.

“If you are infected, you come to the hospital, and there are no ICU beds, then we are in trouble,” he said. “We do not to be like other countries where we have to decide on who should live and who should die.”

He ended with his common refrain of complying with the SOP, wear face masks, wash your hands, and practise social distancing.

The Health director-general’s advice does not have the power it used to have. Every day, people are still taking the risk of crossing states and districts for “lame” excuses like sending clothes and gifting cookies.

The police of Besut even found the barricade and thorn fence they erected being set on fire. “It seems like those people wanted to show their dissatisfaction as their widely used ‘jalan-jalan tikus’ was barred at the border of Besut, Terengganu and Pasir Putih, Kelantan,” the police said.

The frustration, restlessness, and anger that people feel of the Covid-19 rules are perhaps not a coincidence. Noor Hisham empathised when he said that “the people are already fatigued, both mentally and physically. It’s been 16 months since we started fighting this disease.”

Time might be a factor, but it is not the only factor for non-compliance.

Effort-reward imbalance

First, the people must believe that what they doing is working. When MCO 1.0 was announced last March, Malaysians were one of the most compliant countries in the world. The people’s efforts (sacrificing freedom and interest by staying at home) paid off when cases dropped to single digits (rewards).

But that effort-reward was quickly thrown off balance when our rules relaxed too quickly. The mass mobilisation in Sabah’s statewide election accelerated the birth of sticky clusters that ushered a fresh mix of fear, uncertainty, and risk-taking behaviours.

The declaration of emergency was a greater overkill. Despite the dramatic sleight of hand, cases did not go down and this has exacerbated how people understood efforts and rewards. It is not unreasonable for people to think that their actions do not have a direct relationship to the outcome.

The effort-reward imbalance created an adverse stress among the people, which made them bigger risk-takers and greater rule-breakers.

Second, the people must respect those making the rules. When Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin went on public television in the second quarter of the last year, Malaysians treated it as a major event. People are eager to know the latest developments and they were willing to comply so that we could flatten the curve.

But this has changed rapidly as the times went on. The uneven enforcement of the SOPs by providing preferential treatments to celebrities and politicians created a foul sense of unfairness. Ministers who were given vaccination were allowed to travel when commoners were locked at home; returning ministers could avoid an already-shortened quarantine, whereas commoners faced longer and fine-attracting quarantine rules.

Double standards and preferential treatments continued to this day, with a repetition that acts as a mockery to the common people.

Suspending Parliament and providing virtually unfettered powers to the executive convinced people that the rules created were self-serving. All these entered the psyche of Malaysians and shop signs that say “wear a mask even if you’re a VIP” became a quiet and ordinary moment of revolt.

When people do not respect those who made the rules, any call for collective suffering becomes weak. Can we make sure we suffer together?

Contradictory rules

Third, the people must know what rules to follow. Against the rapidly changing, poorly coordinated, and obviously contradictory rules, the people are deprived of the single-most-important tool in times of a crisis: Certainty.

Without certainty on what rules to follow, people are forced to make up their own assumptions on what the rules could be. If an employee does not know if they require a company or police letter to travel 15km to work, he/she would just take the risk of going without one. This same risk-taking DIY rule-making behaviour would be carried forward to other activities, resulting in a chaotic state of affairs.

Companies that receive sudden change in SOP through live TV or just a tweet, might take drastic steps like a total shutdown, premature closures or become willfully ignorant of what was announced.

In the middle of each moral panic and financial losses, people would start to realise that perhaps the rule-makers do not have a better idea than they do. And that convinces people that their perception of rules is as valid as the rules themselves. This leads to a slippery slope of DIY rules by the people.

All of this is summarised in a central concept of “legitimacy”, which simply means that the people must respect the rules they are expected to follow.

Of course, this article is not meant to justify the rule-breaking behaviour of the irresponsible quarters. Fines and punishments should be meted in the event of an obvious and detectable breach.

But what I am saying is that they are not the only ones at fault. Because bad rule-makers beget mad rule-breakers. - Mkini

JAMES CHAI is a legal consultant and researcher working for Invoke, among others. He also blogs at jameschai.com.my. You may reach him at jameschai.mpuk@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.