Merdeka Day Picnic, Reflection On 1MDB Scandal, Culture of Corruption, My Hope For A Better Malaysia

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6 months ago

Note: Another outdated post I was supposed to post on 1 September but got caught up with life.

I was supposed to share this post yesterday but was too tired to think and ended up writing a completely different post inspired by a conversation I had with a friend of mine yesterday evening.

Malaysia celebrated its 65th Independence Day (Merdeka Day) on 31 August 2022 (Wednesday). I thought long and hard about what to write on this post. I certainly can write about our Merdeka picnic at the park, but I feel this post warrants a more thorough reflection on this day.

❤️ Picnic At Bukit Jalil Recreational Park ❤️

After two years of not having a Merdeka celebration, a national parade was finally held at the historical site of Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), where the Independence of Malaya was declared 65 years ago. Thousands of spectators thronged the city center to witness a parade of 20,000 participants from different contingents.

I'm not fond of crowded places; the last place I wanted to be was in the middle of a large crowd. So, we avoided the city and went for a picnic with a group of friends and their respective families.

Bukit Jalil Park is a popular 80-acre recreational park located in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur. I have been to this park several times, but it's not my favorite place because it's always hard to find a parking spot. The parking bays were fully occupied by the time we reached the park at 8am, and many visitors parked their cars by the roadside, making it hard to navigate the parking area. However, we were lucky to find a spot after cruising for 10 minutes.

Since it was a picnic, I didn't get to walk around the park to capture more pictures. A friend found a nice shady spot and spread the mats on the grass. Another friend brought food consisting of "nasi lemak", fried bee hoon etc. for everyone to enjoy.

To protect the privacy of my friends, I am just sharing some pictures taken at a distance or where the faces were mostly obscured.

After enjoying our food, one sweet mom was kind enough to organize some fun games for everyone and the kids. My kids were a little apprehensive, but as the games progressed, they started to relax and even participated with gusto. There were a lot of delighted shrieks and laughter as everyone participated, including the adults. This was a rare occasion where everyone become less inhibited and even allow themselves to be made fun of or laughed at.

We became more connected and closer through some simple activities. I am grateful because my kids had the opportunity to have a wonderful bonding time with friends that was almost non-existent in these two years of the pandemic. Both of them were drenched in sweat after running around the field, laughing, and just being kids.

❤️ My Thoughts On Merdeka Day ❤️

As I pondered on the significance of this day, I couldn't help but be moved by my thoughts. We certainly had gone through so much as a nation. I will not talk about things that happened in the distant past but let's focus on one key event that occurred in the past decade. This event needs no further introduction, the infamous 1MDB debacle by the former Premier of Malaysia, Najib Tun Razak, and his cronies.

For many, many years, I felt ashamed of calling myself a Malaysian because the negative news about 1MDB flooded headlines all over the world. This scandal has been described as one of the world's greatest financial scandals and declared the largest kleptocracy case in recent history. I quote this directly from Wikipedia:

The 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal, often referred to as the 1MDB scandal or just 1MDB, describes a corruption, bribery and money laundering conspiracy in which the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was systematically embezzled, with assets diverted globally by the perpetrators of the scheme. International in scope, it implicated political, banking and entertainment figures and institutions and led to criminal investigations in several countries.

Note: 1MDB, a state-owned investment fund was founded to pursue development projects in Malaysia. Whatever profits gained should be channeled to the country to alleviate poverty.

Billions of the state funds had been embezzled and squandered by greedy, greedy people for their personal benefit. And one of the key figures in this scandal is a coward fugitive hiding possibly in China - Low Taek Jho or widely known as Jho Low. This sorry excuse for a man spent millions purchasing gifts for celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Miranda Kerr. He bought multi-million assets for himself and threw lavish parties attended by Hollywood celebrities.

Another key figure in the scandal, a former banker for Goldman Sachs Group (former head of Goldman Sachs in Malaysia), Roger Ng was convicted by the US Court in April this year.

Today’s verdict is a victory for not only the rule of law, but also for the people of Malaysia. The defendant and his cronies saw 1MDB not as an entity to do good for the people of Malaysia, but as a piggy bank to enrich themselves.
~ Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

And last week, ex-Malaysia Premier Najib Tun Razak lost his final appeal in a corruption case linked to 1MDB scandal and began his 12 years of the prison sentence. He faces a total of 42 charges in five separate trials linked to 1MDB.

And today, hours ago, Najib's wife, Rosmah, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay RM970 million fine for a solar project corruption case.

Are these verdicts victories for the country?

I have mixed feelings. While I applaud the court's decisions that restored the reputation of Malaysia's judiciary system, I couldn't help but pity the disgraced Premier and his wife. I am sure they will be treated well in prison, but to go to jail as elderlies 😫...I guess they reaped what they sowed. I hope they use their remaining days reflecting on their sins and asking forgiveness from God for the transgressions committed against Him and every Malaysian.

Anyway kudos to the team of judges for upholding the law with integrity and fairness, and persevering in the fight against Malaysia culture of corruption. You guys restored my faith in this country. You guys rock! 👏

❤️ My Hope For the Future of Malaysia ❤️

When I reflect on the moments of joy we spent at the picnic and the court's favorable verdicts, I cannot help but notice rays of hope for the future of Malaysia. I hope with the court's rulings, we, as a nation, begin our journey to be "Merdeka" from our national culture of corruption. Many other crooked politicians must be hauled to court, and I hope it can be done swiftly and systematically. But I know this is no easy task when corruption has been accepted as a natural part of our life. Those in power have ingrained it so deeply in us that the new generation doesn't see corruption as wrong.

However, I hope things will change. I always have that hope. When I look at my kids chasing one another on the field, I pray to God that I continue to do the right thing by teaching them to be people full of righteousness and integrity. That they someday will be the courageous agents of change that fight for what is right and true.

I am just one ordinary Malaysian woman. I may have no power like those in the high places, but I have the ability to nurture those within my care to be upright and fear God above all things.

And I hope that simple motherly duty, on my part, will contribute to a brighter future in my "tanah tumpah darahku", Malaysia.

Selamat Hari Merdeka to all my fellow Malaysians, wherever you are in the world.

Note: Tanah tumpahnya darahku (in Malay) literally means the land where my blood is spilled, or where I was born and bred.

That's it for now. If you read this far, thank you. I appreciate it so much! Kindly give me a follow if you like my content. I mostly write about making art, life musing, and our mundane yet charming family life here in Klang Valley, Malaysia.

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