(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): In his opening speech to the 3rd Asia Oil & Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said:
"The economic, political and social changes seen throughout the region in the last 12 months have made it patently clear that business as usual is impossible.
"The people of the region will no longer tolerate the old ways. They reject corruption, cronyism and nepotism. They demand greater accountability, transparency and a real say in the decision-making process."
He called on the regionís people to take a close and hard look at themselves and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
"Courage is required, because we may have to inflict further pain on ourselves before we can emerge as new and vibrant economic entities."
In keeping with the sentiments expressed by Anwar, the Cabinet tomorrow should express its concern at the inordinate delay of the Anti-Corruption Agency and the Attorney-Generalís Chambers on the corruption probe of the former Selangor Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib.
Last year, Malaysians were led to believe that with the passage of a new Anti-Corruption Act, the government has a new political commitment to launch an all-out war against corruption, which should have been strengthened by the Asian economic turmoils in the past year which highlighted the need for wide-ranging political, economic and financial reforms including rooting out corruption, cronyism and nepotism.
But it is "business as usual" for the Anti-Corruption Agency, with no new sense of urgency whatsoever in the anti-corruption drive. This is why Malaysians are very disappointed by the newspaper reports that the .corruption probe into Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib seem to have got nowhere, with the ACA and the AGís Chambers passing the buck from one to the other.
ACA director-genera Datuk Shafee Yahya said the agency had completed the first part of its investigation which started the moment Muhammad was detained for failing to declare more than A$1.2 million when he left Brisbane International Airport on December 26, 1996, and which had been submitted to the Attorney-Generalís Chamber for a further directive before proceeding with further action. The second part of ACA investigations into Muhammad Taib is still underway.
Yesterday, the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah said he had not "personally seen the papers submitted by the ACA" and "It is therefore inappropriate for me to comment on it."
When will the Attorney-General get to "personally see" and decide on the first part of the ACA investigations into Muhammad Taib? Clearly the Attorney-General has a very wrong sense of priorities and there is a need for the Attorney-General to undergo a full orienation to regard the battle against corruption as a top priority in the country rather than spending a lot of time indulging in selective prosecution against the Opposition and NGOs.
Mohtar Abdullah should be mindful of what Anwar said yesterday about the people in the region demanding greater accountability, transparency and a real say in the decision-making process, and the Attorney-General should give a proper accounting as to why he is procrastinating on the Muhammad Taib anti-corruption probe.