Malaysian Parliament should emulate the Palestinian legislature which voted 57-1 last Thursday to demand that Arafat dissolve the Cabinet because of extensive corruption and abuses

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday):
The Malaysian Parliament should emulate the Palestinian legislature which voted 57-1 last Thursday to demand that Yasser Arafat dissolve the Cabinet of the Palestinian Authority because of extensive corruption and abuses.

As a result, 16 of Arafat's 18 Cabinet members offered their resignations the very next day in response to allegations of widespread government corruption.

It is not my intention to pursue the latest Palestinian developments about what Arafat would eventually do with regard to the offer of resignation of 16 of his 18 Cabinet Ministers, but to make the point that the time has come for the Malaysian Parliament to play a greater role in shaping and influencing national developments, especially with regard to the important question of corruption and abuses of power in high political places.

In Palestine, a committee report of the Palestinian legislative council found extensive abuses in all government ministries and recommended that the Cabinet be dissolved and replaced with "technocrats and qualified people."

In the Malaysian Parliament, such a development is unthinkable - and this is why if Malaysia wants to be serious in the all-out war against corruption, Malaysians must be prepared to think the unthinkable, such as:

At present, it is not even possible to get Parliament to hold a special debate on Transparency Internationalís 1997 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) where Malaysiaís ranking has fallen for the third consecutive year - from No. 23 in 1995 to No. 26 in 1996 and now No. 32 in 1997.

The entire civil society should give serious attention to the adverse TI Corruption Perception Index for Malaysia for we want to show that with the confluence of the many great Asian civilisations in Malaysia, Malaysians can lead the world to show the way to create a new culture of integrity in political life and public service with zero tolerance for corruption.

In this connection, it is worth examining at such depth the 1997 TI Corruption Perception Index, which found Pakistan as the most corrupt Asian nation for the second year running and Singapore the most honest.

Nigeria was judged overall to be the most corrupt country in the world, again for the second year running, followed by Bolivia, Colombia and Russia.

In releasing its 1997 Corruption Perception Index, Transparency International noted "the initially hostile reaction" from the Malaysian government where the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had denounced the index as another example of Western "cultural imperialism", but this swiftly turned to cooperation when a serious effort was made by the Anti-Corruption Agency to understand the mechanics and methodology of the index.

Malaysians would like to know the reactions of the Prime Minister and the Anti-Corruption Agency to Transparency Internationalís 1997 Corruption Perception Index, particularly with Malaysiaís falling in three consecutive years in her ranking in the index.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong