“There can be prostitutes in each and every professional practise… people who are motivated by power, lust and greed for which they are willing to sacrifice the sacred trust that society has placed in them,” said Razaleigh.
In a strongly-worded speech at a dinner last night, Razaleigh, popularly refered to as Ku Li, said that unprofessional conduct was “most blatantly evident” in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
“Although established in the midst of much fanfare as part of the government’s reform programme, sad to say, the hopes of the people were dashed soon after it was formed,” declared the Gua Musang MP.
“The people were disappointed when the agency appeared to show interest in petty matters while failing to address more urgent and important cases of corruption.”
The death of two witnesses in the anti-graft agency’s headquarters, he said, had further stirred speculation about the professionalism and integrity of the officials there.
“We are not unjustified in wondering if the agency is really serious about fighting graft, or merely finishing off political ‘enemies’,” said Razaleigh.
He also levelled criticism at civil servants in general for “constantly pandering to political masters”.
He cited their “deafening silence” in cases such as the alleged destruction of the Selangor state government’s records five years ago, after BN lost the state to the opposition coalition.
“Not a whimper was heard from the custodians of public records in this country, despite the fact that they are believed to have their own code of professional ethics,” said Razaleigh.
Judiciary a tool of the executive
He said the trend continues to this day, referring to a case in which a former Directive of the Archives in Sabah made a political statement over the 20-Point point document signed prior to the formation of Malaysia.
“The constant pandering to political masters on their own free will calls into question the extent of their professionalism,” said Razaleigh.
He also slammed the judiciary, maintaining that it had declined in professionalism in“epidemic proportions” since the removal of Tun Salleh Abbas as Lord President in 1988.
Salleh’s dismissal had been sparked by a fallout between Razaleigh and Mahathir Mohamed following a narrow Umno presidential election which the two contested in.
Mahathir grew unhappy with the judiciary when Razaleigh’s supporters filed a suit in the High Court to obtain a court order for new elections, after Mahathir defeated Razaleigh with 761 votes to Razaleigh’s 718.
This eventually lead to a tribunal against Salleh, which found him guilty of, among others, “undermining public confidence in the government’s administration”.
“Since then, the impartiality, independence and basic honesty of the judiciary has been called into question time and time again,” said Razaleigh.
“Since then, the Attorney-General’s Chambers has become the object of public odium, being perceived as a willing tool of the executive.”
Brain drain and racial polarisation
Even the education system was not spared; Razaleigh claimed that it was in “tatters” and placed the blame squarely on the BN-led government’s shoulders for creating the “rot”.
“The drastic drop in educational standards is such that many parents shudder to think of putting their children through the Malaysian school system…
“We may not like to hear it, but the sad truth is that the rot in our education system started with the executive interferences linked to the New Economy Policy,” he said.
The New Economic Policy was launched in 1971 by former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak, and the portion dedicated to education in particular has received criticism for allegedly contributing to brain drain and racial polarisation.
Meanwhile, Razaleigh lashed out at the police force for their “total lack of professionalism”, dating back to the time a former Inspector General of Police (IGP) used violence on Anwar Ibrahim when he was in police custody.
“Sad to say, the image of the police force is at the lowest ebb today. There are many unexplained cases of deaths under police custody, creating unrest and agitation among the people of a certain community,” said Razaleigh.
“The total lack of professionalism within the ranks of the police force was again clearly evident during the Bersih rally when violence and brutality was inflicted on innocent journalists and protestors in what could have been a peaceful protest.”
He described the “post-rally propaganda” against Bersih, and especially its chairperson S Ambiga as “most shameful and unprofessional”.
Stand up to manipulation
In his speech, he also listed out the absence of professionalism in the military, the construction industry, and among accountants and doctors.
“My concern is this: we do not want a profession to be prostituted – for if that happens the profession is condemned to suffer aids from which it might never recover,” said Razaleigh.
Razaleigh urged professionals to resist such political interference, saying: “Sometimes the professionals are only too eager to please their political masters.
“Everyone knows that wisdom among Malaysian politicians is rare, but perhaps few realise that the courage to tell the truth to people in power is just as rare, if not rarer among the professionals.”
He said that for professionalism to take root in society, the public must avoid manipulation by “the powers that be”.
“We can never aspire to be professional so long as we continue to be imprisoned by the feudal mentality that conditions our mind to blindly follow our leaders or those in positions of power and authority.”
Razaleigh said Malaysians must remove the “kampong” mentality and work towards creating a new culture which reflects universally acceptable standards of professional conduct.