Sunday, August 19, 2007

Raja Zarith Idris Speaks Out

"One question that has been on my mind for many years now is this: when the Mentri Besar (chief minister) offered my late father a piece of land as a “gift” from the state government, was that an act that could be construed as corrupt, or was he merely showing his respect for his Sultan? Did that “gift” make both the then Mentri Besar and my father corrupt men?" : Raja Zarith Idris in her column "Mind Matters" in the Sunday Star today.

In her column, Raja Zarith whose father was the late Sultan Idris Shah of Perak, was talking about corruption.
She admitted that she had always shied away from writing about corruption simply because she did not feel "qualified enough or clever enough to be able to differentiate between what is corrupt practice and what isn't".
She writes:

"I suppose my hesitance to address the “mine field” of corruption stems from my own ignorance about the subject, as well as my unwillingness to face the fact that my late father may be labelled as corrupt once he had accepted one “gift” too many. When does a gift remain as a gift and is not seen as bribery?

The English saying that “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones” is one that is always on my mind. My conscience silences me when I am part of a conversation where gossip about this or that corrupt government official or this or that politician abound with great details about how they procured their wealth. I confess I am a coward and my fear is that if I were to point fingers at someone and label him as corrupt, someone else could do the same to me and say, “And what about you?”

So, was that piece of land a gift that smacked of corruption?
I'll be direct here and say that no...that was not a corrupt practice. That was a gift. I shall not assume or impute motive in the Menteri Besar by saying that he had an ulterior motive in giving the land. Simply because he was the Menteri Besar, the most powerful elected member of the State executive. He did not need to resort to giving land to the Sultan to curry favour. And the Sultan did not need to get the Menteri Besar to present him with a piece of land. Wasn't he the Ruler of the land?

I must laud Raja Zarith for her forthrightness, candour and courage in raising this issue. It takes a lot to come forward and give a personal take and question one's own father first with regards to an issue as hot as corruption.
I find the princess a very down-to-earth unpretentious and caring person. She is also intelligent and smart.
So, don't believe her when she said she is "not clever". She was just being understated and modest.
Raja Zarith takes her role as the consort of the Tengku Mahkota Johor very seriously and makes frequent visits to the kampung to meet the rakyat.
During the big floods in Johor, well.... forget the publicity-crazy politicians. I know for a fact, that Raja Zarith got down and dirty to help the flood victims and nary a bother for publicity.
I am no royalist. Hardly. But I am not prejudiced or jaundiced in my view of people, royalty or non-royalty. I take them as they are.
Let's put it this way -- if Raja Zarith was an arrogant snooty royal, I wouldn't bother to even mention her.

I know that this princess speaks from her heart.


Anonymous said...

i've renewed my faith on the next generation of the royal. afterall she's the mother of the "coming-coming" sultan.


the modern-day royals are quite hardworking. some are working for worthy causes.
I know raja zarith goes down to the ground to meet the people.

however, i think it says something about the state of the country today when we start sitting up by remarks made by royals and royalty.
the highest level of the country's ruling hierarchy is making statements the rakyat want to hear, an appreciate.
why's that?

Anonymous said...

This big flood where Raja Zarith showed her caring nature... Is this the same flood when our Prime Minister was cutting some ribbons to open a nasi kandar restaurant in Perth?

Just want to be sure, lest we forget. But I think he came back lah. I remember a picture of him on the front page holding a child whose house was flooded out.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

anon@9:14pm: yes...the same one.


Dear Anonymous@11:11pm. I have taken the liberty of deleting your last sentence. I hope you don;t mind because your comment is just as strong, even without it.

Anon@11:11 said...


coz it strikes the chord of our hearts..thats what the rakyat wants. some may not be able to ariculate well and a large number may be silent, but thats what the majority of rakyat wants..a united country for all and sundry regardless of race or gender.and with clean government working for and with the people.

11:11 PM

Anonymous said...


There is no such thing as "Tengku Mahkota Johor". There is only "Tunku Mahkota Johor".

The Royal Household of Johor, Kedah and Negeri Sembilan is spelt as 'Tunku' where as Selangor, Terengganu, Kelantan dan Pahang is spelt as 'Tengku'. The Perlis family is Syed Al Jamalulail and Perak is Raja.

This common mistake of too many Malaysians. I think the nation should not go this far without able to properly address the HRH Malay Rulers and their families.


Tengku BigDog,

A common mistake indeed. I agree. I am a commoner who just made a very common mistake.
Thank God, i am not living in the feudal era. I'd lose more than my head.

No, seriously. thank you for pointing out the mistake.
Perhaps you should also alert those websites such as etc to force them to make the correction.
I tell you, these people have not respect!

Anonymous said...

The Royalties of Perak and Selangor have shown their worth and I hope many more to come for the benefit of the Rakyat.



Anonymous said...

Raja Zarith's questions are not easy to answer.Perhaps they can only be technically addressed in government guidelines (if there any) as to what constitutes corrupt acts and practices and what don't.

To me, however, it is quite clear when a gift can be construed as a bribe. To me, a bribe is given as an inducement to procure benefits for oneself, one's family or one's cronies.A gift is a bribe when it is given to expedite a case/an application or to abandon it. PERIOD!

In today's variegated world bribes take many forms, some impossible to trace - to the extent that the receivers are persuaded to believe they are legitimate; or that they will not be discovered.

Raja Zarith's example of her father the Sultan of Perak reminds me of a doctor who later became the Menteri Besar of another southern state.As a Government doctor in the 1950s, he was presented with a watch by the grateful father of a Chinese woman on whom he had performed a life-saving operation. He decided he should accept the watch on humane grounds i.e. to allow the Chinese towkay to show his/her gratitude with a gift as is often done between friends and family. And, unlike today, the monetary value of watches in the 50s was pittance!

The key issue here is whether as a government servant or officer of a public agency, you are entitled to these very private liberties. The answer is pretty obvious to me.

AND as a private individual do you have the liberty to offer inducements or bribes to people you know are carrying out public duties and responsibilities?

To me, the givers of bribes should be judged and sentenced more severely than the takers as it is they who initiate such acts.

Business and corporate people are known to boast that they set aside an allocation for the purpose of greasing the palms of
those in authority. "duit kopi" (coffee money) or "bunga mas" or "buah tangan" are after all a part of eastern culture.

The corruption cases highlighted in the media highlight only one side of the story. The police and government agencies take the rap for a social scourge that every Malaysian is potentially guilty of.

For it is our "tidak apa" or "cincai" mentality again which makes us believe that giving a policeman RM50/ to tear up your summons is perfectly all right! After all nobody is hurt and nobody knows!

government officers and government leaders can and cannot do

Anonymous said...

Refreshing indeed...

I am not seeing just the royals but a lot more women are coming out to the front. Being a woman ( a smart one too) and a royal would certainly help if she really want to make a difference. Atleast we have alternatives other than siti, nori and rus as role models. Dont underestimate the hands that rock the cradle... like yours, Ena.


Anonymous said...

But the question remains whether our new generation of level-headed royalties can do something to save this "ship" from further sinking? Or rather, are they willing to go all the way instead of merely giving speeches and lectures?
A great way to start would be to strip the titles of all undeserving individuals i.e. a certain Satay Man who owns a palace in Klang, "Close-One-Eye" and his bocor sidekick....How?

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as a free lunch except if it comes from your parent. Anything above RM 200 today is definitely a bribe. Nobody wants to give a bribe unless there is no way out. I would say that takers contribute 90 % of the problem.

Husin Lempoyang said...

She has a masters in chinese studies oxford and she is not the least arrogant.

Is somethign wrong abt the air, and water in ipoh and jelebu to breed such different in attitude and humility?

Anonymous said...

Why don't you publish my comment because its negative blah.......I said it again its corruption to the highest order.

Anonymous said...

Husin Lempoyang

In Negeri Sembilan, Linggi can boast of more people with integrity, although they are sometimes social misfits!

But really, it's a personal thing -your upbringing and experiences determine your moraliy and value system!


first and foremost, let me answer your question. What comment?

and now that i have published it (the first time i am seeing your comment), let me say it is easy isn't it, under the cloak of anonymous to simply blast away, saying whatever it is you have said.

Anonymous said...

Ok, my apology, maybe my first comment was lost in cyber space
so be it but I am steadfast about it, these corruption practise specially when the royal families are involved.

Anonymous said...

Racial Discrimination in Malaysia
Human Book
Penang, Malaysia
March 29, 2006

Re: The Day They Took Away Our Computers
There is a list of statistical data detailing racial discrimination in Malaysia, practiced by the government and its agencies. This list is an open secret. Its existence is best verified by government itself since it keeps the statistics.

This list is not in the order of importance; that means the first one on the list is not the most important and the last one on the list does not mean it's the least important.

This list is a common knowledge to a lot of Malaysians, especially those non-Malays (Chinese, Ibans, Kadazans, Orang Asli, Tamils, etc.) who have been racially discriminated against.

Figures in this list are merely estimates, so please take it as a guide only. The government of Malaysia has the most correct figures. Is government of Malaysia too ashamed to publish their racist acts by publishing racial statistics?

This list covers a period of about 48 years since independence (1957).

List of racial discriminations (Malaysia):

(1) Of the five major banks, only one is multi-racial, the rest are controlled by Malays.

(2) 99% of Petronas directors are Malays.

(3) 3% of Petronas employees are Chinese.

(4) 99% of 2000 Petronas gasoline stations are owned by Malays.

(5) 100% all contractors working under Petronas projects must be of Bumis status.

(6) 0% of non-Malay staff are legally required in Malay companies. But there must be 30% Malay staffs in Chinese companies.

(7) 5% of all new intake for government police, nurses, army, are non-Malays.

(8) 2% is the present Chinese staff in Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), a drop from 40% in 1960.

(9) 2% is the percentage of non-Malay government servants in Putrajaya, but Malays make up 98%.

(10) 7% is the percentage of Chinese government servants in the entire government (in 2004); a drop from 30% in 1960.

(11) 95% of government contracts are given to Malays.

(12) 100% all business licensees are controlled by Malay government, e.g. Taxi permits, Approved permits, etc.

(13) 80% of the Chinese rice millers in Kedah had to be sold to Malay controlled Bernas in 1980s. Otherwise, life is made difficult for Chinese rice millers.

(14) 100 big companies set up, owned and managed by Chinese Malaysians were taken over by government, and later managed by Malays since 1970s, e.g. UTC, UMBC, MISC, etc.

(15) At least 10 Chinese owned bus companies (throughout Malaysia in the past 40 years) had to be sold to MARA or other Malay transport companies due to rejection by Malay authorities to Chinese applications for bus routes and rejection for their applications for new buses.

(16) Two Chinese taxi drivers were barred from driving in Johor Larkin bus station. There are about 30 taxi drivers and three were Chinese in Oct. 2004. Spoiling taxi club properties was the reason given.

(17) 0 non-Malays are allowed to get shop lots in the new Muar bus station (Nov. 2004).

(18) 8000 billion ringgit is the total amount the government channeled to Malay pockets through ASB, ASN, MARA, privatization of government agencies, Tabung Haji etc, through NEP over a 34 years period.

(19) 48 Chinese primary schools closed down from 1968 - 2000.

(20) 144 Indian primary schools closed down from 1968 - 2000.

(21) 2637 Malay primary schools built from 1968 - 2000.

(22) 2.5% is government budget for Chinese primary schools. Indian schools got only 1%, Malay schools got 96.5%.

(23) While a Chinese parent with RM1000 salary (monthly) cannot get school textbook loan, a Malay parent with RM2000 salary is eligible.

(24) All 10 public university vice chancellors are Malays.

(25) 5% of the government universities' lecturers are of non-Malay origins. This percentage has been reduced from about 70% in 1965 to only 5% in 2004.

(26) Only 5% has been given to non-Malays for government scholarships in over 40

(27) 0 Chinese or Indians were sent to Japan and Korea under the "Look East Policy."

(28) 128 STPM Chinese top students could not get into the course to which they aspired, i.e. Medicine (in 2004).

(29) 10% quotas are in place for non-Bumi students for MARA science schools beginning in 2003, but only 7% are filled. Before that it was 100% Malays.

(30) 50 cases in which Chinese and Indian Malaysians are beaten up in the National Service program in 2003.

(31) 25% of the Malaysian population was Chinese in 2004, a drop from 45% in 1957.

(32) 7% of the Malaysian population is Indian (2004), a drop from 12% in 1957.

(33) 2 million Chinese Malaysians have emigrated in the past 40 years.

(34) 0.5 million Indian Malaysians have emigrated overseas.

(35) 3 millions Indonesians have migrated to Malaysia and become Malaysian citizens with Bumis status.

(36) 600,000 Chinese and Indian Malaysians with red IC were rejected repeatedly when applying for citizenship in the past 40 years. Perhaps 60% of them had already passed away due to old age. This shows racism, based on how easily Indonesians got their citizenships compared with the Chinese and Indians.

(37) 5% - 15% discount for a Malay to buy a house, regardless whether the Malay is rich or poor.

(38) 2% is what new Chinese villages get, compared with 98% - what Malay villages got for rural development budget.

(39) 50 road names (at least) had been changed from Chinese names to other names.

(40) 1 Dewan Gan Boon Leong (in Malacca) was altered to another name (e.g. Dewan Serbaguna or something like that) when it was only officially used for a few days. The government tries to shun Chinese names. This example of racism occurred around 2000.

(41) 0 temples/churches were built for each housing estate. But every housing estate got at least one mosque/surau built.

(42) 3000 mosques/surau were built in all housing estates throughout Malaysia since 1970. No temples or churches are required to be built in housing estates.

(43) 1 Catholic church in Shah Alam took 20 years to apply to have a building constructed. But they were told by Malay authority that it must look like a factory
and not like a church. As of 2004 the application still have not been approved.

(44) 1 publishing of Bible in Iban language banned (in 2002).

(45) 0 of the government TV stations (RTM1, RTM2, TV3) are directors of non-Malay origin.

(46) 30 government produced TV dramas and films always showed that the bad guys had Chinese faces, and the good guys had Malay faces. You can check
it out since 1970s. Recent years, this has become less of a tendency.

(47) 10 times, at least, Malays (especially Umno) had threatened to massacre the Chinese Malaysians using May 13, since 1969.

(48) 20 constituencies won by DAP would not get funds from the government to develop. These Chinese majority constituencies would be the last to be

(49) 100 constituencies (parliaments and states) had been racially re-delineated so Chinese votes were diluted for Chinese candidates. This is one of the main reasons why DAP candidates have consistently lost in elections since the 1970s.

(50) Only 3 out of 12 human rights items are ratified by the Malaysian government since 1960.

(51) 0 - elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (UN Human Rights) has not been ratified by Malaysian government since 1960s.

(52) 20 reported cases whereby Malay ambulance attendances treated Chinese patients inhumanely, and Malay government hospital staffs purposely delayed attending to Chinese patients in 2003. Unreported cases may be 200.

(53) 50 cases each year whereby Chinese, especially Chinese youths, are being beaten up by Malay youths in public places. Police reports may be checked to verify this, provided the police took the report, otherwise there will be no record.

(54) 20 cases every year whereby Chinese drivers who accidentally knocked down Malays were seriously assaulted or killed by Malays.

(55) 12% is what ASB/ASN got per annum while banks fixed deposits are only about 3.5% per annum.

There are hundreds more examples of racial discrimination in Malaysia to add to this list of "colossal" racism. It is hoped that the victims of racism will write in to help expose this situation.

The Malaysian government should publish statistics showing how much Malays had benefited from the "special rights" of Malays and at the same time release the statistics which show how minority races are being discriminated against.

Hence, the responsibility lies in the Malaysia government itself to publish unadulterated statistics of racial discrimination.

If the Malaysia government hides the statistics above, then there must be some evil doings, immoral doings, shameful doings and sinful doings, like the Nazis, going on with the non-Malays of Malaysia.

Civilized nations, unlike the evil Nazis, must publish statistics to show its treatment of its minority races. This is what Malaysia must publish.

We are asking for the publication of the statistics showing how "implementation of special rights of Malays" had inflicted colossal racial discrimination onto non-Malays.

Helen Nicholas said...

Hi Zarith and a Happy New Year,

I don't know if you remember me - your old dorm mate of too many moons ago - Helen Nicholas then. Now Helen Denney, with two young kids, living a middle class life as a middle aged woman in middle England. Very glad to hear that you are making some sort of mark on the world. You were always a bright and sensitive person.

You told us that you had a pet elephant which watched TV. Was that just a story?

I'm sorry to hear of your father's passing. How is Sharin?

Very best wishes to you and yours for 2008

from Helenx

Anonymous said...

apo ko bondo weh! bile ada org raja sikit tulis semua buka mato. Abih org biasa tulis tak buko mato ko?

Aparah? amende nak heboh? semua tu memang ade lah wehh! 3 bende akan sebabkan penguasa tergolek dog dan juga manusia biasa sapa...Wanita, harta dan Kuasa (takhta).!

Jadi, yang menipu rakyat lah nie sapa punya! Kalu hang ada kuasa, hang pi ckp lah kek depa! tulis pun ada tapi tarak semangat dah! Piiirahhh!