Billion of taxpayers dollars have been looted under their noses.

Billion of taxpayers dollars have been looted under their noses.

Revelation by Daniel Lian an Asia economist at Morgan Stanley in Singapore, that the country might have lost “as much as US$100 billion since the early 1980s to corruption” is hardly surprising.

Barely a year after Mahathir took over the premiership, the biggest banking scandal in world history erupted in Hong Kong, when it was discovered that Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF), a unit of Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Bhd, had lost as much as US$1 billion which had been siphoned off by prominent public figures into private bank accounts.

According to the Morgan Stanley reports – the list of scandals include:

The Bank Bumiputra scandals of the early 1980s (Cost, RM3.2 billion)
Maminco’s 1980s attempt to corner the global tin market (RM1.6 billion)
Bank Negara losses on foreign exchange futures in the 1990s (RM30 billion)
Perwaja Steel losses (RM2.56 billion)
Bank Islam scandal (RM700 million)
Wang Ehsan from Terengganu oil royalty (RM7.4 billion)
Shoring-up of Valuecap Sdn Bhd with public funds (RM10 billion)
Commissions to Perimeker Sdn Bhd and IMT Defence Sdn Bhd on fighter and submarine deals (RM910 million)
Non-itemised IT equipment purchased for schools (RM2.21 billion)
Soft loan to PKFZ (RM4.63 billion)
Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex for cancelled crooked bridge to Singapore (RM1.3 billion)
Compensation to Gerbang Perdana for cancellation of crooked bridge contract (RM300 million)
Two bailouts of Malaysian Airlines System (RM7.9 billion)
Bailout of Putra LRT system (RM4.5 billion)
Bailout of STAR-LRT system (RM3.256 billion)
Bailout of Kajian Makanan dan Gunaan Orang Islam (RM8.3 billion)
Compensation paid to 20 highway companies, as announced in 2006 (RM38.5 billion)

When Mahathir stepped down as Prime Minister in 2003, Malaysia’s ranking was No. 37 under the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. And Morgan Stanley estimated RM 380 billion losses due to corruption during that period.

Three years later, Malaysia ‘s corruption ranking has deteriorated to No. 44 in 2006. By slipping down 7 places during Abdullah’s rule as Prime Minister, many fear that corruption has worsened and the cost to the nation may be even higher than during Mahathir’s era.

Clearly the costs of privatization are substantial and may even exceed the savings of RM 7.7 billion in annual operating expenditure and RM 153.6 billion in development expenditure. No wonder many refer to the government privatization programme as a piratisation exercise which benefits the few to the detriment of all Malaysians.