‘Tis the season of forgetfulness over financial scandals

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SO MUCH has happened over the years that one is forgiven for forgetfulness about what went wrong or right in Malaysia.

Malaysians have seen a series of financial scandals, each that seem bigger than the previous one.

Right now, the focus is on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Everyone is concerned about its debts and the government's liability if it fails. That includes Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Daim Zainuddin, and rightly so, as the two men navigated Malaysia through tough economic times in the past.

But what about the huge gaping hole called Perwaja, not to mention Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and PKFZ during Dr Mahathir's long 22 years in power. Or Maminco or Bank Negara's forex scandal if that ever strikes one's minds.

Weren't they scandals that hogged the headlines in the past, only to be quickly dismissed by the government of the day and either government guarantees or public funds poured in to bail them out?

And then Daim talks about widening income gap, blah blah blah... that is blighting the nation. Didn't that also happen in the past few decades and not just a recent phenomenon?

The thing is, the Malaysian economy did not become dysfunctional overnight. The excesses, subsidy mentality were also features in both of Daim's terms in office during the Mahathir years.

Malaysia went through several cycles of economic slowdowns where there was much pump-priming. That playbook has hardly changed in recent years although prime ministers have changed.

See, the only saving grace for all the missteps and mismanagement and gross incompetency or corruption over the decades is that Malaysians are a forgiving lot.

We have not pushed anyone out office for losing billions of ringgit over the years. Financial scandals have not lost anyone public office in Malaysia.

Dr Mahathir and Daim have a right to be concerned as much as other Malaysians about the country's economy and the rising public debt but they have to remind themselves the same happened during their time in office.

There is little difference between them and the current government in thinking that they know best for the country's economy – no matter the criticisms and concern of the ordinary people who have to tighten their belts because the government is not doing exactly that.

They can forget the past financial scandals but Malaysians should not, and not let them get away without accounting for their deeds in public office. – The Malaysian Insider