(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The deafening silence of the Anti-Corruption Agency director-general Datuk Ahmad Zaki Husin in the past ten days on the Internet website alleging corrupt practices by Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud will not enhance ACA's credibility or improve Malaysia's ranking in the 2001 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International (TI) to be released later this year.
Ten days ago, I had publicly pointed out that a website had appeared on the Internet making serious allegations of corruption and abuses of power against the Sarawak Chief Minister and that anyone visiting it would find it crammed with details and documentation.
I had asked whether the ACA had set up a high-level investigation
team to probe into all the allegations made on this website, in the same
manner the ACA had swung into action in October 1999 to set
up a special high-level team to investigate into the statutory declaration
made by former Bank Negara assistant governor Datuk Abdul Murad alleging
that the former Deputy
Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had amassed a fortune of RM3 billion while in government through 20 "Master Accounts".
If in the past ten days, Ahmad Zaki had been out of the country, indisposed or otherwise inaccessible to the mass media, his 10-day silence on the Internet website could be explained away.
But Ahmad Zaki was very much in the news in the past ten days, commenting on various ACA investigations such as the RM19 billion Perbandanan Usahawan Nasional Berhad (PUNB) bond scam, the allegations of abuse of power by senior Prisons Department officials in giving special treatment to former newsreader Sharma Shukla who is serving a three-year jail sentence in Kajang Prison or the RM11 billion Perwaja Steel scandal.
Ahmad Zaki cannot avoid adverse inferences being drawn about the ACA's professionalism, competence and integrity by being selectively silent on the Internet website alleging corrupt practices by Taib when he had been so forthcoming with regard to other cases.
How can Ahmad Zaki act as an ostrich with head buried-in-the-sand hoping that his silence on the Internet website alleging corrupt practices by Taib would not be noticed, especially after Malaysiakini had reported on 6th February that the ACA was neither monitoring nor investigating the Internet website and its serious allegations of corruption and abuses of power against Taib in his 19-year tenure as Sarawak Chief Minister.
Even more shocking was the excuse given by the ACA official for this inaction that
"our Internet connection is bad and we have difficulties in accessing Internet, let alone the website".As a result of his deafening silence in the past ten days on the website alleging corruption against Taib, Ahmad Zaki's own credibility and that of the ACA are now on the line, as the ACA director-general had publicly declared that the ACA takes all complaints about corruption seriously, even if they are in the form of poison pen letters which are usually anonymous or have false names and addresses.
If so, can Ahmad Zaki explain why the ACA is not prepared to take the Internet website complaints seriously as to initiate high-level investigations into the allegations of corruption against Taib?
Since Ahmad Zaki's taking over as director-general of ACA, Malaysia's ranking in the Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) has plummeted. Malaysia was placed 23rd in 1995, 26th place in 1996, 32nd in 1997, 29th in 1998, 32nd in 1999 and 36th in 2000 in the Transparency International CPI.
It will be an adverse reflection on Ahmad Zaki's leadership of the ACA if Malaysia's ranking in the TI's CPI continues to decline, but the ACA's deafening silence and inaction with regard to the serious allegations of corruption against Taib on the website is not calculated to improve Malaysia's ranking in the 2001 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) but may drag it down further.
Just as justice must not only be done but seen to be done, the ACA
must not only combat corruption but be seen to be combating corruption
and Ahmad Zaki should come out of his self-imposed silence to inform Malaysians
as to what
the ACA is doing with regard to the website allegations of corruption against Taib.