Malaysia and the Philippines: corruption and cheating are all part of ‘the game’

While I was reading news about Malaysia’s recently-concluded election, I could not help but shake my head; it was as if I was reading about the Philippines. Some of the things that were being said about the Malaysian government and its society could likewise be said about the Philippine government and its society too. It actually came as a surprise that widespread corruption, cronyism, racial tension, abject poverty, not to mention vote rigging or electoral fraud is still rampant in Malaysia.

Razak: under attack for alleged election fraud
Razak: under attack for alleged election fraud
I always thought that Malaysian society is above those things considering their country is more prosperous than the Philippines due to their open economy. Heck, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur has been featured quite often in Hollywood blockbuster films for its sophisticated postmodern style and has also served as a 21st century icon for the country. And, considering their former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had the gall to criticize our society in recent past, I would have expected electoral fraud in his country to be all in the past. It looks like the former PM needs to remind his successors about what he said to Filipinos while he was here as a guest in 2012:

“Democracy works only when the people understand the limitations of democracy. When people think only of the freedoms of democracy and know nothing of the implied responsibilities, democracy will not bring the goodness that it promises. Instead it will result only in instability and instability will not permit development to take place and the people to enjoy the benefits of freedom and the rights that democracy promises. No sooner is a Government elected when the losers would hold demonstrations and general strikes accusing the Government of malpractices.”

Apparently, things are not so peachy in Malaysian politics after all. While the incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak has been quickly sworn into another five years of office, Razak’s political rival, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is still crying foul over allegations of electoral fraud. Ibrahim complained to local and foreign media or anyone who would care to listen that during the election, there were “documented cases of electoral fraud and calling for an independent Election Commission to investigate”.

Well, if this isn’t déjà vu, I don’t know what is. We really do have a lot in common with our Malay neighbors. Obviously hocus-focus and political drama is not exclusive to Philippine politics at all. The possibility of having similar scenes — disputed election results, say — after the Philippine mid-term elections this month is quite strong. Just like how Malaysian opposition leader Ibrahim predicted the alleged cheating plans of the Malaysian government before the election, there are a lot of concerned Filipinos already predicting that there could be a failure of elections with the use of what they say is an unreliable automated system called Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) system. The complaints about technical glitches in the 2010 election were quickly dismissed by government agencies just to be able to declare that first automated election a success.

A documentary show in Manila even claimed that the transmissions by the PCOS could easily be hijacked and replaced. I guess if someone really wanted to cheat in the election, they will find a way to do it. Seeing how desperate most of the candidates are to win the election, there could be mayhem on Election Day itself. Unfortunately, Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino seemingly couldn’t care less about talks of failure of elections. He is very confident about his team winning with just a flash of the Laban sign. His minions, the so-called “little ladies” and thugs-for-hire will handle all the little details just like how they handled it in the 2010 elections. The little details could include but not be limited to vote buying, intimidation of voters and supplying of flying voters.

The thing that made me shake my head even more was when I was reminded of some Filipinos who keep insisting that a parliamentary system as opposed to a presidential system could solve the Philippines’ mediocre political leadership. Just to reiterate, I am not against the parliamentary system of government. But looking at Malaysia’s situation with Prime Minister Najib Razak’s party ruling for the last 55 years, I could not help but realize that a parliamentary system will not solve leadership mediocrity in Philippine government just like it has not solved political leadership problems in Malaysia. It could actually help keep an incompetent and vindictive leader like BS Aquino in power for the rest of his life with his relatives taking over after he dies. The scenario is not too far-fetched. This early, BS Aquino’s celebrity sister Kris Aquino already announced she is going to join politics in 2016. They are already planning ahead to ensure that their family continues to rule the country uninterrupted.

The thing that most people don’t realize in both Malaysia and the Philippines is that, at the end of the day, whoever controls the media, rules. The system of government will matter very little to the flow of information, particularly propaganda – both negative and positive – when media is under the control of one entity.

In Malaysia, the government controls the mainstream media. During the height of the election campaign, it was alleged that the government attempted to shut down independent media organizations that were set up to report a little bit of balanced news. The Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim actually wanted to free Malaysia’s government-controlled media organization and would likely have done so had he won the leadership. He claims that smear campaigns against him worked to poison people’s minds and put the government in a good light. In 1998, Anwar was jailed, beaten and assaulted while detained and was later convicted of crimes he said he did not commit. He is adamant that he is just a victim of a falling out with his mentor, former PM Mahathir.

In the Philippines, something similar is happening too. Stakeholders of giant media organizations are said to be beholden to the incumbent President BS Aquino owing to their allegiance to his late mother, former President Cory Aquino. Mrs Aquino was said to have been instrumental in giving back control over said media companies to the previous owners after the ouster of former President Ferdinand Marcos. With the media beholden to the President, it seems they highlight only the things that would make him look like he is working hard. Some say media organizations mount smear campaigns against BS Aquino’s political enemies and splash the “right” headlines in their front-pages while hardly ever highlighting instances where the cases against them have been dismissed or dropped. Former President Gloria Arroyo is one of the media’s favorite punching bags. Recently, the Inquirer even came under attack for their gaffe when in their haste to glorify the President; they made a mistake of putting a fake TIME magazine photo of BS Aquino on their front page.

If Malaysia is truly Asia, with corruption and cheating an acceptable part of their society, then the Philippines is not far from being truly one with our neighbor. The current Philippine government could even be trying to copy Malaysia’s style with BS Aquino reportedly making deals with the Malaysian government to drop the claim over Sabah, not to mention allowing the Malaysian government to broker the Bangasamoro Framework agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mindanao. Indeed, one can be forgiven for thinking that the Malaysian government’s realm has been extended to the Philippines under BS Aquino’s watch.

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Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

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73 Comments on "Malaysia and the Philippines: corruption and cheating are all part of ‘the game’"

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Mercury
Guest

Could corruption common to other third world or developing countries?

OnesimusUnbound
Guest

Well, UK got one [1]. Corruption can happen anyway.

The question is, how is this handled in a country. In UK, some Member of Parliament were persecuted, in the Philippines, government officials involved in scandals are still in power. :-S

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_parliamentary_expenses_scandal

OnesimusUnbound
Guest

Correction: “Corruption can happen anyway.” -> “Corruption can happen anywhere.”

Andrew
Guest
I’m British. We do have a constant battle with corruption in our media, in the Police, in local government, in government procurement and in our legislature, but it’s fair to say that the public have a zero tolerance approach to corruption – they expect to see it rooted out and punished, every single time corruption is found to have occurred. We are confident that no corruption takes place in our Judiciary. The idea of bribing a Judge is actually unthinkable – we honestl cannot imagine it. Our Judges have other faults – arrogant, pompous, out of touch and of course… Read more »
Commiecs
Guest

Great post, Ilda (as always). I agree with you on most points. However, I can’t help but speculate on the last part regarding the incompetent PeeNoy possibly making a deal with Malaysia on not pursuing the Sabah claim.

Have you read The Vincenton Post on his view of the matter? It goes contrary to the claim of Philippines over North Borneo.

And while we’re on the topic, what is GRP’s view of The Vincenton Post in general? I hope benign0 can also answer this.

Juan dela Cruz
Guest

Issue in Sabah must be resolved peacefully but according to the plebiscite held in the 20th century, Sabahans chose Malaysia. That means we must not waste our time in this issue.

Daiki Aomine
Guest

But it could’ve been settled very well if not for Noynoy’s stupidity. It seems you love being stupid like he said-

“You should refrain from this HOPELESS cause.”

For Kiram, this is more like an insult. And it seems that you love to INSULT other people. Wow, I can’t believe your evil. A bad person to be exact. 😛

Goody Baja
Guest

I luv this post Ilda! I also have the same thought! Great article!

Jose Mario De Vega
Guest

@Ilda

Great post, except that, want to correct you on a single matter! Anwar Ibhahim was jailed in 1998, not 1997! 1997 was the year of the Asian financial crisis — which is the source of fight between Anwar and bloody Mahathir!

cory
Guest
Political dynasties and corruption permeate asian politics and culture to such an extent that all countries seem like copycat regimes following similar paths, experiencing the same criticisms, and with a political elite driven by self-interest and feudal thinking. Only the family names are different, the goals are the same – maintain power and the status quo. “Last year, India’s most respected election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms informed us that nearly a third of MPs – 158 of 543 – in the parliament faced criminal charges. New research has now thrown up more bad news. After examining affidavits filed by… Read more »
libertas
Guest

And just to add:
With vice president binay supporting dynasties, the aquinos fast tracking bam aquino ( and kris aquino in the wings), then things will get worse before they get better

Juan dela Cruz
Guest

Political dynasties are allowed in the constitution.

libertas
Guest

they are to be defined- idiot

Johnny Saint
Guest
Juan dela Cruz, “Political dynasties are allowed in the constitution.” That is a BLATANT LIE. Article II Section 26 states “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and PROHIBIT POLITICAL DYNASTIES as may be defined by law.” The charter DOES NOT call for a law banning dynasties. Under the Declaration of State Policies IT IS ITSELF ALREADY BANNING THEM. What the constitution requires is the enactment of a law DEFINING “political dynasty.” For 26 years, Congress has avoided this. By refusing to do so, politicians (especially the Aquinos) have perpetuated the notion that their political office… Read more »
Daiki Aomine
Guest

And that’s why we need to change the constitution.

Johnny Saint
Guest

Amending the constitution won’t really amount to substantial change if the officeholders and political personalities in the Philippines remain consistently mediocre, ill-prepared, ill-equipped, and, most importantly, unwilling to put the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage because they are utterly devoid of morals despite several lifetimes of inculcation by the Catholic Church.

Gerry
Guest

Is their a person alive that does not know that these two countries are headed by corrupt-as-shit governments? the West says “Jump,” and the leaders of these countries say “How high?”.

Always have and always will.

Gerry
Guest

elections are nothing but a farce in these two countries.
The winners have already been decided. Sad as it is,the best part about voting in these elections is the P300.
if the ‘massa’ has figured out that the machines can be hijacked it can not be too far a stretch to figure that the gov’t. knows how to do it as well, EH? Dang, they are the ones who bought the machines in the first place,LOL!

Juan dela Cruz
Guest

That changes now because the government will start to implement it’s fight against corruption.

MidwayHaven
Guest

He’s been in office for three years and he’s just “starting”? That’s the most basic example of incompetence.

WinterSoldier
Guest

Anyways, eduardo, you should say this to PNoy: get rid of the PADRINO SYSTEM.

It seems this eduardo guy is corrupt because he still doesn’t want to get rid of it. 😀

ChinoF
Member

Sometimes I wonder if corruption is actually a standby of Southeast Asian Culture in general. I mean, taking something from history, that happened in South Vietnam as well before the American War escalated. And even in the North, I’m sure.

libertas
Guest
Every culture has its business etiquettes but china has perfected the art of guanxi (connections), and of gifting, to such an extent that ‘red envelopes’ become the norm, and what many westerners regard as corrupt practices are simply seen in china as the price of doing business and ‘joining the club’. Confucian in origin, and now embedded in society. So it is no surprise that in the philippines where chinoys run the economy that the same culture abounds, building upon family, networks, favours given, and obligation owed. The difference is always one of degree. A business lunch is one thing,… Read more »
Johnny Saint
Guest
Hi Ilda, As usual, great article. 🙂 I’d have to disagree with your observation that patronage politics — i.e. the “padrino” system — seems to be the root of the problem. If that were the case, then one might conclude, erroneously, that the US and/or the UK would have the same chronic problems in development that plagues the Philippines. As Libertas pointed out, patronage politics isn’t something new to western democracies. Yet these are vibrant, progressive, and highly industrialized societies. Libertas also mentions the phenomenon of social etiquette that has evolved out of Confucianism into a set of behaviours that… Read more »
Juan dela Cruz
Guest

This problem arose from the past two presidents. One who is smart but most corrupt politician ever (based on Guinness) and one who is smart but in stealing.

libertas
Guest

and the current president p-noy aquino has been voted the worlds worst leader with corruption increasing under his watch by 300%.

if you took an I.Q. test, the result would be a negative

Johnny Saint
Guest
Juan dela Cruz, Stop LYING about the culpability of the Aquinos in dragging the Filipino people into the malaise we are suffering from. You are quick to point out the Estradas and the Arroyos as thieves. But you conveniently overlook the fact that Ninoy Aquino — BS Aquino’s father — nearly started a war between Malaysia and the Philippines to further his ambitions toward the presidency. The Aquninos also fomented the leftist rebellion that is still ongoing today. BS Aquino’s grandfather, Benigno Aquino Sr. was a MAKAPILI — a Japanese collaborator during World War II. If there were ever a… Read more »
Daiki Aomine
Guest

Nope. It all started during Spanish times, not Marcos and Arroyo.

Because of your username, eduardo, I’m starting to think that the show totally sucked. 😛

Johnny Derp
Guest

^believe me bro, that show totally SUCKS, just like the twat that uses the name of that show. Eduardo, you should just change your name to WHY BOTHER since it suits YOU and your dumb bald president.

MidwayHaven
Guest

@Juan dela Cruz: When you base your thoughts on Guinness, you’re bound to come up with some pretty ludicrous statements. Lay off drinking the Guinness.

Johnny Saint
Guest

It’s the Corruption Perception Index. Juan dela Cruz’ statement is misleading. While the image of the Philippines has improved slightly, that same CPI indicates we are still near the bottom third MOST CORRUPT COUNTRIES in the world. On a par with Mexico and Algeria.

Juan dela Cruz
Guest

But according to the CPI, corruption is dramatically lessen in the Philippines.

libertas
Guest

the CPI being what exactly

Johnny Saint
Guest

It’s the Corruption Perception Index. Juan dela Cruz’ statement is misleading. While the image of the Philippines has improved slightly, that same CPI indicates we are still near the bottom third MOST CORRUPT COUNTRIES in the world. On a par with Mexico and Algeria.

Daiki Aomine
Guest

Thanks for the lies, eduardo.

Thanks for glorifying MEDIOCRITY. You’re happy right?

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA- NO. 🙁

OnesimusUnbound
Guest

@Juan dela Cruz

Assuming a 100 point exam whose passing score is 70 points, if Philippines had its recent exam score increase from 26 to 34, you call that an improvement? 34 is still a falling grade.

ronjiedotcom
Guest

Sadya bang pinatalo ng PNoy camp si Mar Roxas nung 2010 para hindi obvious na nandaya sila?

Juan dela Cruz
Guest

Dinugas siya ni Binay

Johnny Saint
Guest

Dinugas siya ni Binay…

…Who happens to be a close ally of the Aquinos going back to the 1986 presidential election and the EDSA uprising.

Daiki Aomine
Guest

…and a win-win situation for the Aquino camp.

domo
Guest

When oh when will you gonna suffer a very painful death vincensus ignoramus?

OnesimusUnbound
Guest

Salamat kay Chiz :-S

johndoenymous@gmail.com
Guest
johndoenymous@gmail.com

Or the people might just be trolling Korina Sanchez.

It’s an open secret that the woman wants to be the First Lady, or at least the wife of someone who has one of the top positions. I know at least two people who campaigned against Roxas among friends for this reason.

Hyden Toro
Guest

Unfortunately, in every country. There are people, who are hired to sanitize the news. Or to magnify the accomplishments of politicians. Fraud exists, where there are elections. Hocus PCOS will be there again. They hire good computer experts to do Hocus PCOS. The Election Commissioner is old. He does not understand about : electronics and computers. Or, he may be a part of the coming Hocus PCOS…

Daiki Aomine
Guest
I’m very sure that Juan dela Cruz (a.k.a. eduardo) wants corruption altogether. He’s proven being stupid by always stating that only two people are the cause of it, and not on the CULTURE. TBH, Lee Kuan Yew pointed out that the problem of the Philippines is not corruption but the CULTURE. A culture of corruption. I was wondering: why those trolls never want to mention the padrino system? Every politician has that; the Aquino-Cojuangco clan are also part of it, from the implemention of the 1987 constitution to businesses and stuff. It’s really funny that people like the guy named… Read more »
libertas
Guest
Kris aquino, who thinks that sleeping with politicians counts as political experience, won’t endorse Nancy ‘ironing lady’ Binay. The potty calling the kettle black. The only smart thing to ever come out of kris aquino’s mouth is a penis. The Carthusian monks and Carmelite nuns have endorsed nancy binay by holding a silent farting contest. Nancy binay is the voice of the silent majority, but in the land that time forgot, if a housewife could become president, then why can’t a housemaid become a senator. She is an ironing board with nipples. A coffee machine on legs. If brains were… Read more »
Johnny Saint
Guest

😀 😀 😀

mcalleyboy
Guest
Waiting for my free T-shirt and 500 peso’s and all the pomp and pagentry will be over for another 4 years. I don’t predict any change to the Municipality I live in, no major chain resturant at the entrance will be constructed and it’s on to big boy hamburgers and red crappy hot dogs as usual, Oh I know why don’t I travel at least 30-45 minutes and get your McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza hut the Chinese don’t want any business outside of Mecca also known as Manila and they also must require that all government employee’s stay in Mecca so… Read more »
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