Dato’ Zulkipli bin Mat Noor,
should accept the challenge of Dr. Mahathir and draw up a 10-year
Anti-Corruption Action Plan to compare with Finland and be ranked
among the world’s five least corrupt countries in the annual
Transparency International Corruption Perception Index by 2013
The 2001 Anti-Corruption
Agency Annual Report states as follows:
Vision – “Towards the creation of a corruption-free Malaysian
society based on high spiritual and moral values”;
Mission - “To eradicate corruption, abuses of power and
deviations in Malaysia”;
Objective – “To
combat corruption and the abuse of power through concerted and
The ACA was established
36 years ago on 1st October 1967 but it does not have much
to show for its stated Vision, Mission or Objective as it has not
dared to set for itself public and measurable targets and benchmarks
to enable an annual or periodic assessment of their success.
At present, the only
yardstick or benchmark to assess the performance of ACA is the
Transparency International’s (TI) annual Corruption Perception Index
(CPI). Although Malaysia has improved its country placing from No.36
out of 91 countries in TI’s CPI 2001 to No. 33 out of 102 countries
in the 2002 CPI, Malaysia has joined the group of 70 countries which
scored less than 5 out of a clean score of 10, suggesting high levels
of perceived corruption in government and public administration.
Nine countries scored 9
or higher out of a clean score of 10 in the 2002 CPI, indicating a
very low level of perceived corruption, led by Finland 9.7, Denmark
and New Zealand 9.5, Iceland 9.4, Singapore and Sweden 9.3, Canada,
Luxembourg and Netherlands 9.0.
In the 2001 CPI,
although Malaysia was ranked No. 36, it scored 5 and joined 36
countries with low level of perceived corruption – a position it
failed to maintain in the 2002 CPI when it scored 4.9 and slipped into
the group of 70 countries with high levels of perceived corruption in
government and public administration.
In Asia, Malaysia (4.9)
was perceived as more corrupt than Singapore (9.3), Hong Kong (8.2),
Japan (7.1) and Taiwan (5.6) and better than South Korea (4.5), Sri
Lanka (3.7), China (3.5), Thailand (3.2), India (2.7), Philippines
(2.6), Vietnam (2.4), Indonesia (1.9) and Bangladesh (1.2).
Malaysia can take no
comfort from being perceived as less corrupt than nine other Asian
countries, when we should aim to be ranked among Asia’s top first or
second country perceived to be the least corrupt with a score of more
than 9 out of a clean score of 10.
The recent Transparency
International Malaysia National Integrity Medal award ceremony on 28th
June 2003 to honour posthumously Tun Dr. Ismail Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan
Siew Sin and Tun Ismail Mohamed Ali for their unquestionable
integrity throughout their services to the nation should be a
painful event not only to the present generation of Malaysians but
also to the ACA as it raised the very pertinent question as to why
Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman’s 13-year premiership could produce
two recipients from his Cabinet but not a single Minister from the
22 years of the current premiership of Dr. Mahathir for this honour.
In his address at the
ceremony, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad made
the startling confession about one major downside of his 22-year
premiership when he lamented that the country had “seen a steady
deterioration and erosion of ethical standards of behaviour in both
the public and business sectors, with predictable consequences for
sustainable human development, not only here in Malaysia, but
unfortunately in many of the countries we look up to”.
Dr. Mahathir sought to
justify why no “sharks” of corruption had been arrested and punished
during his long premiership by challenging the belief that the “big
fish” must be caught while the “minnows” were considered unimportant,
contending that this was wrong as the culture of corruption began
with the minnows. He said: “Besides, when corruption is tolerated
among the minnows, the big fish are encouraged and society accepts the
practice, and it becomes a culture.”
This was a weak and even
pathetic excuse for the lack of ACA action against the “big fish”
during the past two decades, and totally contradictory to the promise
made by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when he was Acting Prime Minister in
the two fateful months in 1997 when shepherding the Anti-Corruption
Bill 1997 with the pledge to the nation: "Now is the time to act…we
will catch the big ones and we will catch the small ones".
tragically, the only “big fish” to be caught during the 22-year
Mahathir premiership was none other than Anwar Ibrahim himself, who
was convicted and jailed for six years for a corruption offence which
did not involve a single sen or had anything to do with any monetary
or material consideration whatsoever!
During the first major
financial scandal of the premiership of Dr. Mahathir, the RM2.5
billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance scandal which caused the murder of
an up-and-coming, young, conscientious and model management
executive, Jalil Ibrahim, the Prime Minister made the prophetic
comment that it was “a heinous crime without criminals” – as since
then, the “heinous crimes” of financial scandals had continued to
increase in scale reaching tens of billions of ringgit but all
completely “without criminals”!
The latest example of
this culture and tradition of “heinous crime without criminals” is
the RM140 million East Coast school computer laboratory fiasco and
scandal where construction was not only behind schedule by two years,
574 of the 600 computer laboratories built are not safe and in danger
of collapse – with everybody disclaiming responsibility, led by the
Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad proclaiming that the
Education Ministry was “totally blameless”.
The tradition and
culture of “heinous crimes without criminals” is an indictment on the
effectiveness, efficiency, independence and professionalism of the ACA
to combat corruption, abuses of power, criminal breach of trust and
all forms of deviations.
The ACA should end its
target-less Vision, Mission and Objective and rise up to the
challenges posed by both Dr. Mahathir and the new Prime Minister in
three months’ time, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for a
corruption-free Malaysia comparable with Finland.
In his speech at the
Transparency International Malaysia National Integrity Medal award
ceremony, Dr. Mahathir said that Malaysia must compare its public
behaviour with Finland, which came out as the world’s least corrupt
and most ethical country in the past three years in TI’s CPI.
He said: “I know we have
some way to go, but given the level of public support the
Anti-Corruption Agency now enjoys, and the wide-ranging
anti-corruption measures now firmly in place, we can get to be among
the highest ranking countries.”
recognition of the work of TI, the global anti-corruption NGO, was
most welcome for this was the first time in seven years that he had
any good word for it or its annual CPI.
When TI released its
first CPI for 1995, placing Malaysia as No. 23 out of 41 countries,
Mahathir denounced the Berlin-based organization and its CPI for
their European bias and ulterior agenda against the non-White world,
asserting that European countries were more corrupt than any other
and that if a similar watchdog group was set up in Malaysia, it would
find that countries in Europe were the most corrupt!
Dr. Mahathir’s belated
recognition and commendation of TI was all the more pertinent as in
the past seven years, Malaysia’s ranking on the TI’s CPI had fallen
well below the original 23rd placing, viz. 23rd in 1995,
26th in 1996, 32nd in 1997, 29th in 1998, 32nd in 1999, 36th in 2000
and 2001 and 33rd in 2002.
In contrast, Finland has
been able to maintain its position as among the world’s least corrupt
nations, positioned in the fourth place in 1995 and 1996, moved up
to second place in 1997, 1998 and 1999, and from 2000, ranked first
as the least corrupt nation in the world for three consecutive
years to 2002. The TI’s 2003 CPI should be released within a month.
At the Ethics and Integrity Conference
last August, the Prime Minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad
Badawi had declared that the government possessed ample political will
to ensure that the scourge of corruption was eradicated in both the
public and private sectors,
else will do" as the Government had “zero tolerance for corruption”.
With such public
commitments by the Prime Minister and the soon-to-be next Prime
Minister, the ball is in the court of the ACA to translate its Vision,
Mission and Objective of a corruption-free Malaysia and a culture of
zero tolerance for corruption into reality.
ACA should accept this challenge and draw up a 10-year Anti-Corruption
Action Plan to compare with Finland and be ranked among the world’s
five least corrupt countries in the annual TI CPI by 2013, with
progressive targets set for the intervening period, such as:
be ranked among the 25 least corrupt nations by end of Eighth
Malaysia Plan in 2005;
be ranked among the 15 least corrupt nations by Mid-Term Review of
Ninth Malaysia Plan in 2008;
be ranked among the 10 least corrupt nations by end of Ninth
Malaysia Plan in 2010; and
be ranked among the five least corrupt nations by 2013.
The ACA should formulate
the 10-year Anti-Corruption Action Plan to position Malaysia among
the world’s five least corrupt nations by 2013 which should be
presented to Parliament next month for adoption as part of the 2004
Budget when it is tabled on September 12, 2003, making it the
centerpiece of a parliamentary budget debate for the first time in the
history of the Malaysian Parliament.
The DAP is prepared to
fully co-operate with the ACA in the formulation of the 10-year
Anti-Corruption Action Plan to compare Malaysia with Finland and to be
ranked among the world’s five least corrupt nations by 2013, and we
propose to present various memoranda to the ACA on our views, ideas
and proposals in the next few weeks – possibly a weekly memorandum to
We also propose to hold a
series of public consultations to enable civil society and public
input on how the ACA can achieve its Vision, Mission and Objective of
a corruption-free Malaysia and we will invite the ACA to send
official representatives to take part in these consultations. We will
also be asking for meetings with top ACA officials on these proposals
Democratic Action Party