"The die has been cast by the PM and the DPM. At stake is the Government’s credibility. Indeed the ACA is on trial."
I fully support and agree that the Anti-Corruption Agency is on trial and this is the first time since the ACA was launched thirty years ago on 1st October 1967 when it could establish its reputation not only in the country but also in the world as a premier anti-corruption body dedicated to the eradication of corruption.
In fact, the time has come for the ACA in Malaysia to establish an international reputation comparable to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong, which is universally acknowledged as being in the vanguard of organisations dedicated to addressing issues of corruption that occur in both the public and private sectors.
Twenty-two years ago before the establishment of ICAC, corruption was a way of life in Hong Kong.
The success of ICAC in reducing corruption in Hong Kong in the past 22 years can be seen from public opinion surveys in Hong Kong, one in 1977 in which 38% thought corruption to be widespread and another in 1994 in which only 7.8% thought so. In a more recent survey, only 2.9% of the people of Hong Kong indicated they would tolerate corruption and 68% indicated that they would report it if they became aware of it.
These opinion surveys also highlight another important aspect if any all-out war against corruption is to succeed - the support of the community itself which must be a driving force against corruption by taking proactive and sustained action to raise the standards of accountability, transparency and integrity in the public service and government.
The ACA should rise to the challenge posed by Tan Sri Harun Hashim when he said that "The ACA is on trial" and establish an international reputation as a premier anti-corruption body comparable to ICAC of Hong Kong.
If the ACA is to come out of its trial with flying colours, and make Malaysians able to hold their heads high in the international arena because we have finally an anti-corruption agency which is respected nationally and internationally, then it must be able to produce acceptable and satisfactory results in the various high-profile investigations it is presently conducting as well as introduce effective anti-corruption laws and measures.
How the ACA fare in its "trial" will depend on how well it acquit itself, among other things, in the following five matters:
In his column today, Tan Sri Harun Hashim made some very pertinent comments and proposals which must be taken seriously if the all-out war against corruption is to move into a "full-action" mode.
For instance, he raised the issues about "politicians and Government officers owning multi-million ringgit bungalows"; "conspicuous consumption" when some Government servants own and drive expensive cars when at their level of salaries, position and the amount of loan they can borrow from the Government, they can only afford to buy cars in the Proton and Perodua ranges; retiring civil servants being appointed to directorships of companies they dealt with before retiring from office; and congratulatory messages from the private sector in the newspapers when political leaders or government servants are conferred a Datukship or Tan Sri.
All these issues are proper subjects for the Royal Commission for a National Integrity System which the government should establish to make a comprehensive study and wide-ranging recommendations to promote a culture of public integrity with zero tolerance for corruption in Malaysia.
Malaysia has many prominent personalities with undoubted integrity and credibility to make such a Royal Commission a high-powered one, such as Tan Sri Harun Hashim, Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas, another former ACA Director-General, Tan Sri Zulkifli Mahmood, the former Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin and many others.
The appointment of such eminent Malaysians in such a Royal Commission for a National Integrity System would itself signal the seriousness of the government to create the conditions for a clean society and a good government with zero tolerance for corruption.