The Cabinet should issue a Position Paper on the 10-Point Consensus of the Round Table on Corruption - Assembly of Voices held on July 13 and the 16-Point Declaration of the Consensus Against Corruption Conference on July 19 to promote fuller debate of the problem of corruption and how it could be stamped out in the country.
There are those who feel that there is already too much debate and talk on corruption and that the whole public discussion on corruption should be wound down. If these people have their way, then it would mean the beginning of a roll-back in the campaign for an all-out war against corruption - even before the campaign had begun to see results particularly in the catching of the "big fish" apart from just catching "small and middling" ones.
If the all-out war against corruption is not to join history’s long list of failures of anti-corruption drives, then public debate and discussion on the problem of corruption in Malaysia has just started - for public discussion and debate on corruption cannot cease, but in fact must increase in intensity, until and unless Malaysia achieve a new culture of integrity in political life and public service with zero tolerance for corruption.
A good basis for public discussion and debate on the problem of corruption in Malaysia is the 10-Point Consensus of the Round Table on Corruption and the 16-Point Declaration of the Consensus Against Corruption Conference, and this is why the Cabinet should discuss them and issue a Position Paper in order to create fuller national awareness about the evil of corruption and how Malaysia should begin to work towards a fully ethical and moral society, one of the nine strategic objectives of Vision 2020.
Both the 10-Point Consensus of the Round Table on Corruption and the 16-Point Declaration of the Consensus Against Corruption Conference are born out of the same noble objective to bring the problem of corruption under check and to gain for Malaysia a new international reputation of a clean, honest and incorruptible government and society.
Although they cover common grounds, the two Anti-Corruption Declarations have separate proposals to make the all-out war against corruption more effective and lasting in effect, as to lead to a new culture of integrity with zero tolerance against corruption.
Two outstanding proposals in the 16-Point Declaration, for instance, are with regard to calls for legislation for the formation of a National Anti-Corruption Council whose task is to identify, study and analyse the impact of corruption on the socio-economic, political and national security aspects, with branches at state and district levels; and the establishment of a high-level committee, answerable only to Parliament, to review cases submitted by the Anti-Corruption Agency to the Attorney-General but never prosecuted - with the Attorney-General as an ex-officio member but with members comprising laymen of high integrity.
Important proposals of the 10-Point Consensus are the calls for public and periodic declaration of assets and liabilities by all members of Parliament and State Assemblies; greater transparency in funding of political parties and the restoration of an independent and impartial Judiciary. Cabinet should expand Special Cabinet Committee on Integrity in Government Management to Special Cabinet Committee on the National Integrity System
In his paper at the Consensus Against Corruption Conference last Saturday, the Director-General of Anti-Corruption Agency, Datuk Shafee Yahya said that the Cabinet had approved the policy and strategy paper on combatting corruption by the ACA on 4th April 1997.
He said one of the main recommendations approved was the strengthening and widening of the scope of reference of the Special Cabinet Committee on Integrity in Government Management, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, to formulate policies, strategies and approve action plans for a more concerted and integrated anti-corruption effort.
I do not think the ACA recommendation had gone far enough in keeping with the needs for an all-out war against corruption and to create a new culture of integrity with zero tolerance for corruption in Malaysia.
I call on the Cabinet to expand the Special Cabinet Committee on Integrity in Government Management to become a Special Cabinet Committee on the National Integrity System to formulate policies, strategies and approve action plans to strengthen the national integrity system, affecting not only the government but the entire Malaysian society so that the Special Cabinet Committee could approve and implement policy proposals contained in the 10-Point Consensus of the Round Table and the 16-Point Declaration of the Consensus Against Corruption Conference.
At present, the Special Cabinet Committee would not be able to consider the proposals in these two anti-corruption declarations unless they pertain to government management, which would be a grave limitation at a time when the government has declared an all-out war against corruption.
If the Special Cabinet Committee is expanded from confining itself to Government Integrity to National Integrity, it could form working groups with political parties and the civil society, whether the professions, the mass media, religions and NGOs, to involve the whole country in the fight against corruption and to create a new culture of integrity in Malaysia.