The press can play two important roles in the all-out war against corruption: firstly, embarking on investigative journalism by exposing corruption in the public service; and secondly, spearheading a national awareness campaign about the seriousness of the all-out war against corruption to create a new culture of public integrity with zero tolerance for corruption.
In this connection, the Berita Harian should be commended for its editorial today, under the heading "BPR mantapkan agenda bersih rasuah", which states:
"Langkah Badan Pencegah Rasuah (PBR) menjalankan siasatan rapi dalam kes pembelian korporat bernilai RM1.28 billion membabitkan anak Menteri Pengangkutan, Ling Hee Leong, adalah wajar dan jelas membuktikan kesungguhan agensi itu membanteras sebarang penyalahgunaan kuasa, tanpa mengira pangkat dan kedudukan. Ini sejajar dengan ingatan Pemangku Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, sebelum ini bahawa kerajaan akan mengambil tindakan tegas membersihkan negara daripada rasuah dan penyelewengan di semua peringkat. Bagaimanapun, kita sedar tindakan itu perlu dibuat berhati-hati bagi mengelakkan sebarang penganiayaan"
I would urge mass media in Malaysia to devise a specific strategy to play an active role in the all-out war against corruption and to help create a new culture of public integrity in Malaysia.
May be, they can start by devoting a full page in each day’s newspaper to the issue of an all-out war against corruption.
Secondly, as part of the national effort to create a culture of public integrity with zero tolerance for any form of malpractices, the press can set an example by discontinuing practices which may be deemed undesirable in the light of such a culture - even though it would mean certain financial losses for the newspapers.
In the past few days, for instance, newspapers have been carrying full-page advertisements by commercial companies congratulating Datuk Abu Hassan Omar on his appointment as the new Selangor Mentri Besar and Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayub as the new Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.
Such full-page newspaper advertisements by commercial companies on the appointment of a Cabinet Minister or a state Mentri Besar may not be healthy and should probably be discontinued - so as not to create invidious situations in the future relationship for the both parties involved.
I would urge the Acting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the Cabinet and the ACA to give this idea serious consideration.
The country should begin to think of the desirable practices which should be encouraged and undesirable practices which should be discontinued in order to create a culture of public integrity with zero tolerance for corruption.