Jaya, Tuesday): Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad
Badawi made a very good speech on corruption
yesterday when he opened the
Ethics and Integrity Conference at National Institute of Public Administration (INTAN)
in Kuala Lumpur.
Abdullah said the public sector must always operate
with the highest standard of honesty and
integrity, that “"Nothing else will do," as the Government
had zero tolerance for corruption and wanted it to be eradicated at all levels.
He said the Government possessed ample political will to ensure that the scourge is eradicated in both the public and private sectors, and that ethics and integrity should be at the core of every person.
This is the first time any top government leader in
Malaysia had embraced the “zero tolerance for corruption” concept and
the new policy should have made the 45th National Day especially
meaningful and inspired great
national expectations and new hopes
among the people that there is now a new broom to sweep out the cobwebs of graft
and corrupt malpractices in the country.
But this is not the case, for Abdullah’s “zero
tolerance corruption” speech has fallen like a damp squib, arousing hardly any interest or attention -
as the general reaction is a mighty yawn or the response: “Go Tell It
To The Marines!”
Who is to blame for the zero credibility of Abdullah’s
“zero tolerance for corruption” declaration?
Has Abdullah a
plan of action to demonstrate the government’s new-found “zero tolerance for
corruption” pledge, such as naming name corruption as the No. 1 enemy
in the country and to declare total war against graft?
Unfortunately, Abdullah’s declaration
of “zero tolerance for corruption” cannot withstand public scrutiny
for a minute when the government is totally indifferent and blind to
the new crisis of confidence in the
integrity of government precipitated by the conviction and two-year jail
sentence of Keadilan Youth chief Mohd Ezam Mohd Noor
under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) which
sent out the outrageous message to the nation and the world that in
Malaysia corruption is no crime while exposing corruption is the heinous crime.
An easy and immediate test as to whether the government has
a “zero tolerance for corruption” is whether
the Cabinet is prepared to take a stand on Wednesday to address
the greatest corruption scandal in Malaysia to mark the beginning of the
21st century following the conviction and jailing
of Ezam under the OSA – the illegal immunities from prosecution granted to the
International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz and former Malacca chief
minister Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik.
Ezam’s conviction and jailing under the OSA have proven the genuineness of the secret documents relating to the corruption investigations of Rafidah and Rahim, viz. that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had been satisfied that there were prima facie case to prosecute Rafidah and Rahim for multiple charges of corruption, giving rise to the great moral and anti-corruption question - Which is the more heinous crime: offence under the OSA to expose corruption or corruption itself under the Anti-Corruption Act?
A government which continues to be indifferent and blind to this great moral and anti-corruption question forfeits all credibility about integrity, let alone claim to “zero tolerance for corruption”.
I would not ask the Cabinet on Wednesday to demonstrate its new-found “zero tolerance for corruption” credentials by withdrawing the illegal immunities from prosecution granted to Rafidah and Rahim, for it simply does not has any.
I am more concerned about Suhakam’s silence on this great moral and anti-corruption question, and I call on Suhakam to speak up on the new crisis of confidence over the integrity of government precipitated by Ezam’s OSA conviction, which constitutes major multiple human rights violations, as it should not behave like the allegorical three monkeys with eyes that see not, ears that hear not and mouths that speak not.
Suhakam can only remain blind and unconcerned about the gross injustices of convicting Ezam under the OSA while immunity of prosecution is granted to Rafidah and Rahim for corruption by committing a gross dereliction of its statutory duty to protect and promote human rights – the rights to information, justice and good governance.