My late mum had a lot of cronies, with whom she saw teochew operas, played mahjung or chee-key, and p'ah-kok (kongsamkok).
‘Crony’ means a close friend, chum, buddy, pal, and wakakaka, matey.
But alas, from ‘crony’ comes the more nefarious term ‘cronyism’.
What is cronyism?
According to the dictionary, it’s the practice of appointing friends to high-level posts regardless of their suitability.
In the Malaysian case, cronyism is more about commercial awards with outrageous terms, usually at the expense of the rakyat.
Look at legal gambling organizations, highway tolls, construction, software, arms, etc contracts in Malaysia.
The latest accusation of ‘cronyism’ has the rakyat railing and ranting against the increase in electricity tariffs and the inexplicable and unmitigated government’s protection of the IPP, even to the extent of hiding the contractual terms declaring these are classified.
Malaysiakini reported in Subsidy scandal: 'EPU blunders, rakyat suffers' that:
Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin said the government has no power to make the power purchase agreements public as these are contracts signed with private entities.
As well-known UMNO blogger Sakmongkol AK47 said (words to effect), if there is anyone who can declassify secrets, it’s the government.
Indeed so, let alone a mere commercial contract.
Needless to say, the rakyat wants to know who are these ruling party’s cronies, and in the case of the IPP, what is the gvernment attempting to hide?
But I think the first question, who are these ruling party’s cronies, may be the wrong question to ask. While it’s interesting to know who they are (and quite frankly, we already know many of them), the far more important questions to ask should be:
How did they become ‘cronies’, or what’s the quid pro quo to become a crony?