(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said in the Dewan Negara yesterday that action would be taken against government leaders who lead a lifestyle beyond the income they had declared when they were appointed.
On Sunday, speaking at the UMNO 51st Anniversary Forum, Mahathir said that the government was determined to tackle the problem of corruption quickly and decisively.
Both these statements are very welcome and show a greater though belated concern on the part of the Prime Minister about the problem of corruption in Malaysia.
However, Mahathirís statement that the government would tackle the problem quickly and decisively has still to be translated into action.
I call on Mahathir to take the first step of a "quick and decisive" tackling of the problem of corruption by subjecting all Chief Ministers and Mentris Besar to the public scrutiny and test as to whether they are leading a lifestyle beyond their known sources of income.
As there is a Teluk Intan Parliamentary by-election currently going on, the Perak Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah should respond to the Prime Ministerís concern that heads of governments should set an example of public integrity by publicly declaring his assets and those of his wife and family, as well as subjecting his lifestyle to public scrutiny.
As Ramli Ngah has been mentioned as most likely to replace Tan Sri Muhammad Taib as the UMNO Vice President should the former Selangor Mentri Besar resign his position as UMNO Vice President, Ramli should show that he has the qualities of leadership in a new era where public integrity is of the highest priority where, using Mahathirís words yesterday, "government leaders must not only be clean but also seen to be clean".
Both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, are expected to be Teluk Intan for the Barisan Nasional by-election campaign. Let Ramli publicly declare, either in the presence of the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister, that he is prepared to set the first example of a government leader in Malaysia who is not only prepared to publicly declare his assets but also to subject his lifestyle to public scrutiny!
Yesterday, Ramli Ngah said that the people of Teluk Intan would be left out of the mainstream of development if they vote for the DAP in the parliamentary by-election on Saturday.
This is most shocking as such threats belong to the old political era of threats and money politics. Threats that voters would be left out of the mainstream of development if they vote opposition should be regarded as a form of "corruption" and election malpractice which could lead to the disqualification of the candidate on whose behalf they were issued.
I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, to take a serious view of this form of corruption, as recently, the Prime Minister had been speaking up against all forms of corruption.
Only last month, Mahathir warned the media against inaccurate reporting in the name of press freedom, saying that it is a form of corruption and abuse of power.
The Prime Minister should warn heads of governments against issuing threats that voters would be left out of the mainstream of development if they vote opposition, as this is no less a form of corruption and abuse of power.
If government leaders have to issue threats or bribes in order to get votes, what type of a democracy are they promoting in Malaysia?
Development is a fundamental right of every Malaysian citizen, regardless of who he chooses as his elected representative. Until and unless all political leaders can accept that development is a fundamental right of every citizen, especially as government funds come from the taxpayersí money, Malaysia cannot claim to be serious about Vision 2020 objective of wanting to become a fully developed nation which includes having a mature democracy.