Anwar’s integrity is enhanced by the inability of the authorities to level any monetary corruption charge against him after more than a year of sacking as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister

KeADILan Tanjong ceramah
Lim Kit Siang 

(Penang, Saturday): In the past few days, we read about anti-corruption drives against the once high- and-mighty in foreign countries.

In Pakistan, the police have accused former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of graft worth US$110 million (RM418 million) covering  money laundering, tax evasion, forgery and misuse of public funds and his office for personal benefit a week after he was ousted by the  Pakistani Army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf.  Various members of Sharif’s Cabinet, including his anti-corruption officer, Senator Saifur Rehman, face allegations that they used their power to avoid import taxes and to get huge government contracts at bloated rates.

In Israel, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife were questioned by police after officers seized dozens of valuable items the couple is suspected of having kept illegally after Netanyahu lost the Israeli election in May.

In Nigeria, police have made fresh arrests and more could follow as President Olusegun Obasanjo intensifies measures to bring former rulers to justice for alleged murders and corruption since he took office on May 29 to end 15 years of military rule in Africa’s most populous nation.

Even in Indonesia, the winds of a clean-up are blowing, as the Indonesian Supreme Court gave the new Indonesian Parliament the power to release the PriceWaterhouse Coopers report on the Bank Bali scandal, which found irregularities  and indications of fraud involving government and party officials during the processing and payment of US$70 million (RM266 million) claims.

The first thing worth noting is that corruption charges were levelled against Shariff a week after his ouster while actions were instituted against Benjamin Netanyahu and in Nigeria less than five months since the transition of power in these two countries.

It is clearly a credit, enhancing Anwar Ibrahim’s integrity while in office, that the authorities have not been able to level any charges of monetary corruption against him after more than a year of sacking as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, although the authorities must have gone through his records with a fine-tooth comb.

On the contrary, Anwar Ibrahim had lodged four police reports about corruption and abuses of power in high political places, naming names, including the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the First Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz, the former Malacca Chief Minister, Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik, and the two most senior law officers in the land, the Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah and Dauk Gani Patail - backed with documentary support for the serious allegations.

If there is a change of government in Malaysia, I wonder how many Barisan Nasional government leaders can withstand a thorough scrutiny of their integrity in office, and be like Anwar without any charge of monetary corruption after more than a year, and how many will be like Netanyahu or Shariff and  be accused of corruption within five months or a month!

I tabled  a question on Anwar’s four police reports  in Parliament on Thursday, which reads:

This is the answer I get from  the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi:

This is a most unsatisfactory answer.

On Sept. 10, 1999, Anwar lodged his fifth police report while under incarceration, this time not about corruption and abuses of power in high political places, but about his arsenic poisoning after he was told of the Melbourne Gribbles pathology laboratory report that his urine taken on August 18 had dangerously high level of arsenic.

On 4th  October 1999, the  Deputy Inspector-General  of Police Datuk Jamil Johari said   that the Police did not rule out the possibility of taking action against Anwar for lodging a  false report of his arsenic poisoning while in prison, after the  Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) reported that medical tests, conducted locally and abroad, have found no signs of either acute or chronic arsenic poisoning in Anwar Ibrahim.

Based on Jamil’s statement, I had posed three questions, one of which was whether the Police would take action against Anwar for lodging false reports in connection with his four police reports about corruption and abuses of power in high political places, or is the Police admitting and  confirming that Anwar’s four police reports about corruption and abuses of power naming Mahathir, Daim, Rafidah, Mohtar Abdullah, Rahim Tamby Cik are not false reports?

I am still waiting for the Police answer.

When as Acting Prime Minister, Anwar piloted through Parliament in July 1997  the new  Anti-Corruption Act with increased anti-corruption powers, Malaysians had hoped that the Anti-Corruption Agency  (ACA) would be transformed into a really effective and meaningful agency to combat corruption.

But the past two years have shown no improvement in the ACA, which has remained a toothless tiger as far as fighting high-level corruption is concerned.

The only difference is that the present ACA is more publicity-conscious with a greater flair for public relations - which has nothing to do with rooting out corruption in Malaysia.

Two days ago, the ACA deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan said it was important to weed out corruption, including in the civil service, because it could boost investor confidence.

He said: "There will be more investors coming if corruption is reduced further," adding that the level of corruption had a direct influence on investment decisions.

He took pride in latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI)  by Transparency International which had placed Malaysia 29th among the 85 countries surveyed worldwide.

I am shocked that the ACA, which is responsible for ensuring the highest integrity in public life, could be so complacent as to take pride that Malaysia is placed 29th  among 85 countries as the least corrupt country, when Malaysia was  placed 23rd in 1995, 26th place in 1996,  and  32nd in 1997.

The ACA  should place the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index on its priority agenda and work out a strategy whereby Malaysia could be universally recognised as among the ten least corrupt nations in the world – and which is reflected in future Transparency International Corruption Perception Indices.

It would not be easy for Malaysia to leapfrog from the present No. 29 position in the TI Corruption Perception Index to within the first ten least corrupt nations, but the ACA should take this as a challenge after the enactment of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 which was supposed to introduce a new era of national integrity in Malaysia.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong