The Government should mobilise the energies of the entire civil society, whether political parties, mass media, the professions, the religions, the NGOs, to launch a national campaign to create a new culture of integrity in political life and public service with zero tolerance for corruption.
Parliament had just passed the Anti-Corruption Bill after a four-day debate. Overall, the Anti-Corruption Bill is an improvement to existing anti-corruption laws. However, there are a few undesirable provisions like Section 20 with the heavy penalty of RM100,000 fine, 10 years jail or both for false reports, and several other areas where it could be improved to make it into a model for anti-corruption legislation to the world, whether developed or developing.
This was why I had proposed 29 amendments to the Anti-Corruption Bill in Parliament. Although the government is not prepared to accept anyone of these 29 amendments, they serve notice to both the government and the nation as to the areas which the country must give serious attention if we want to have better anti-corruption legislation, like requiring those holding high public office, whether in politics or government, to publicly declare their assets and to make unexplained possession of property a corruption offence.
However, more important than enacting the Anti-Corruption Bill is having the political will to enforce it. If after the passing of the Anti-Corruption Bill, it is still the small ones and not the big ones who are caught, then public confidence in the government's commitment to wage an all-out war against corruption would be seriously undermined.
During the four-day Parliamentary debate on the Anti-Corruption Bill, the comments made by some Barisan Nasional MPs show that they do not understand the need to involve the entire society if the war against corruption is to be won.
For instance, during the debate, the MP for Pokok Sena, Wan Hanafiah Wan Mat Saman asked the Opposition not to use Tan Sri Harun Hashim's experience in debating the Bill, declaring that there was no need for the opposition to organise any round table discussions on corruption, and alleged that Tan Sri Harun and former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin were "opposition people".
I would have thought that the problem is that there are not more round-table conferences and discussions to mobilise public support against corruption, rather than that there is no need for them.
Are all those who have attended the two Round Tables on Corruption - not to mention the Consensus Against Corruption Conference - like Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin,Tan Sri Harun Hashim, Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, Tan Sri Samad Ismail all "opposition people" because they oppose corruption?
It is a very sad day for democracy in Malaysia, and bodes ill for the future of any all-out war against corruption, when all Malaysians who oppose corruption are regarded as opposed to the Government. In his speech when introducing the second reading of the Bill, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the war against corruption is not a political agenda but a national agenda. Clearly, this message has not been fully understood by Barisan Nasional MPs.
I also find it most shocking that the DAPSY forum on corruption scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur last Monday was banned by the police on the ground that similar forums had been organised and that there was no need for another forum on corruption.
Something is very wrong when on the one hand, Parliament was meeting to pass a new anti-corruption law which would confer on the ACA the duties to enlist and foster public support in combating corruption, while at the same time, the police was banning public efforts to hold forums to raise greater national awareness and mobilise public support against corruption.
What the Police had done in banning the DAPSY forum on corruption was in fact to nullify what Parliament was seeking to do to pass this Anti-Corruption Bill!
The Government should in fact encourage all political parties, religions and civic organisations to organise anti-corruption public awareness meetings all over the country rather than banning them, to so there is a new national spirit of abhorrence of corruption.
Furthermore, the government should appoint Malaysians who have distinguished themselves over the decades in their commitment for public integrity and to oppose corruption, like Malaysia's most famous Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin, the direct ACA Director-General, Tan Sri Harun Hashim, Malaysia's world authority on corruption, Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas and others like Dr. Chandra Muzaffar , Raja Aziz Addruse and Datuk Param Cumaraswamy to a National Council to advise how best to devise and implement a national strategy to achieve the objective of placing Malaysia among the ten least-corrupt nations in the world.