Sad to say, I have reached a point in my life that I no longer believe that people in power would tell the truth for altruistic reasons if there are no checks and balances to ensure that they do. It is after all human nature to protect themselves particularly if there is so much to protect.
The more one stays entrenched in power, the more one gets used to it and the more one accumulates things in which to protect. Until and unless one absolutely has to tell the truth, why would he or she? This my friends, is why checks and balances are not just important, but absolutely crucial.
With the demise of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his cronies, the chips are beginning to fall. Slowly but surely, their myriad of lies are becoming exposed and the truth is scarier than fiction it would seem.
Let's take the case of chief lawyer for now disgrace former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah. When previously accused of having taken backhanded payments of RM9.5 million from Najib out of money stolen from 1MDB, he had dismissed the story as a nonsense. Now however, he has taken a dramatic U turn and admitted that he had after all been paid RM9.5 million by Najib out of money stolen from 1MDB.
What sparked the change of heart? Well, UMNO and Najib's defeat of course! If Najib had remained in power, he would have protected himself and all his cronies from the wheels of justice. With Najib's downfall, his protector is gone and Shafee is left with no choice but to come clean.
What this example demonstrates is this - people will do what they can get away with. This means that when people get entrenched in power with no need for accountability, few would be transparent unless forced. In other words, without checks balances, flagrant misuse of power will remain hidden. In Malaysia's case, millions upon millions of the peoples' money has been squandered with no recourse for the common man. If Malaysians had not had the courage to vote the unthinkable, Najib would still be in power and the embezzlement would have continued.
I am not suggesting that Singapore has a 1MDb scandal. Not at all. But we do have other little things that add up to priority treatment for those in power at the expense of the common folk. If there are no checks and balances, not only will these perks go unnoticed, they cannot be stopped.