Friday, May 22, 2009

Even Malaysian politicians are laughing at our pilfering MPs

A few of the more establishment commentators have sought to defend our pilfering MPs by suggesting that the level of political corruption in Britain is nothing compared to Malaysia or Mexico.

That's a very complacent attitude, which ignores how much damage the ongoing expenses scandal is doing to the once-lofty reputation of Britain's parliamentarians abroad.

arlier this week, I went to a talk by Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, the chief minister of Selangor, one of Malaysia's most important states.

He is a senior member of Malaysia's main opposition alliance, which has won unprecedented public support by attacking the cronyism of the incumbent race-based government coalition.

But, whatever people think about corruption in Malaysia, he was in no doubt about how bad British politicians looked after so many had been caught with their fingers in the till.

"The quality of spending [in the Selangor state government] is much better than the parliamentarians in Great Britain," he said, to howls of derision among the usually quiescent academics in the seminar room at Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

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