He then took his oath of office witnessed by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Rais Yatim and Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Samsudin Osman at the ceremony.
No new ACA chief has taken over the top anti-corruption post in the country under a greater cloud than Zulkipli as up to now, the mystery remains as to why the term of Datuk Ahmad Zaki Husin as ACA Director-General was not renewed and he was replaced instead by a policeman to head the ACA for the first time in 32 years.
Did Zaki fail in his job as ACA director-general in the past two years or was he too enthusiastic and energetic in his fervour to combat corruption which is not what the top government leadership wants for the next two years?
I understand that the decision not to renew Zaki’s term as ACA director-general was a last-minute decision. Parliament should demand full and proper explanation as to why Zaki had been dropped as ACA Director-General in favour of a policeman, which had immediately plunged the ACA into a new crisis of public confidence as the police is one government department with the most public complaints about abuses of power and corrupt practices.
Parliament should in fact schedule a special debate on the government’s refusal to renew Zaki’s term as ACA director-general and the appointment instead of a policeman, taking the opportunity to have a detailed scrutiny and debate on the functions and performance of the ACA in the past two years focussing in particular on whether it had made full use of the new and expanded powers given to it under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1997.
The absence of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the swearing-in ceremony for Zulkipli as ACA Director-General yesterday is most surprising. As Mahathir had always been present at the swearing-in of political secretaries, does his absence yesterday signify the lowly ranking of the ACA Director-General in the government hierarchy, and if so, it is unlikely that Zulkipli would have much clout to combat corruption in the country.
Utusan Malaysia of 3rd April 2001 reported that on his first day as ACA director-general on 2nd April, Zulkipli called on the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister should inform Parliament and the nation as to what transpired in his meeting with Zulkipli, whether he had specifically given him a blank-cheque to take action against the corrupt without fear or favour, whether ikan yu or ikan bilis, or whether the new ACA director-general had been told in no uncertain terms that he comes under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Department which made Mahathir’s presence at Zulkipli’s swearing-in unnecessary.
In any event, how could Zulkipli start as ACA director-general on April 2 getting briefings from ACA officers as well as calling on the Prime Minister as reported by Utusan Malaysia when he was only given his letter of appointment and took his oath of office yesterday?
Be that as it may, Zulkipli should know that there is no “honeymoon” period for his new post as ACA director-general as he is immediately under test.
He should regard as his top priority the arrest and reversal of Malaysia’s poor international record in the anti-corruption front, as reflected by Malaysia’s annual ranking in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index - 23rd place in 1995, 26th in 1996, 32nd in 1997, 29th in 1998, 32nd in 1999 and 36th in 2000.
Zulkipli should do what none of his predecessor had done - to declare ACA’s goal to catapult Malaysia into Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) within the first 20 least corrupt nations in the world by 2005 and within the first 10 least-corrupt nations by 2010.