I had expected the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim, to address this issue, declaring a greater government commitment to stamp out corruption and all forms of abuses of power especially as the 2002 Budget has empowered Ministries and statutory agencies with greater delegated spending powers.
On the ground of ensuring speedy implementation of government projects, ministries and statutory agencies were conferred greater delegated authority: tender boards at ministries given the authority to approve tenders of up to RM50 million for works procurement and RM30 million for supplies and services and up to RM5 million restricted tenders without Treasury approval; with the ceiling for tenders of statutory boards raised to RM100 million for all supplies, services and works and up to RM10 million for unrestricted tenders.
It is a matter of grave concern that Parliament, during the budget debate, had not focused on the need and measures to ensure that such greater delegated powers in the 2002 Budget do not lead to more abuses of authority and corrupt practices, and the five-month government silence after the release of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2001 on Malaysia’s adverse ranking is symptomatic of the lowly place of the anti-corruption drive in Malaysia.
In fact, in the past six months, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has disappeared from the national radar and consciousness, after the former ACA director-general Datuk Ahmad Zaki Husin was summarily shunted off to become Chairman of the Advisory Board set up under Article 151(2) of the Malaysian Constitution, being replaced by a policeman to head the ACA for the first time in its 32-year history.
In the past six months, the ACA has so completely disappeared from public view that I do not think there is more than a handful of MPs or the Malaysian public who could offhand remember or know who is now the Director-General of ACA! The question “Who is the director-general of ACA” will draw a blank throughout the country.
I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to give his personal attention to make a Ministerial statement in Parliament to break the government silence on the adverse TI Corruption Perception Index 2001 on Malaysia and how the ACA can return to the national radar and consciousness in a high-powered campaign against corruption - which has become more imperative with the 2002 Budget vesting greater spending powers to ministries and statutory boards without the traditional safeguards and checks.