First step to give teeth to Abdullah’s “combat corruption” call - draw up a 10-year Anti-Corruption Action Plan to be ranked among the world’s five least corrupt countries in the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index by 2013
by Lim Kit Siang
Tuesday): Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad
Badawi yesterday called for more effective measures to curb corruption
especially in the public service as out of the 1,342 people arrested for
graft between 1998 and 2002, more than half were civil servants.
Malaysians can still remember that seven years, Abdullah’s predecessor, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had promised a new era in the war against corruption when shepherding the Anti-Corruption Bill 1997 through Parliament, pledging to the nation: "Now is the time to act…we will catch the big ones and we will catch the small ones".
Ironically and 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! Apart from Anwar, all the other ‘big fishes” escaped, together with many small fishes.
Can Malaysia make up for the seven years lost in the all-out war against corruption promised in Parliament in 1997?
The last speech made by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir on corruption was the Transparency International (TI) 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 integrity throughout their services to the nation. TI Malaysia could not find any Cabinet member in the 22-year premiership of Mahathir to share in such an honour!
Mahathir said that Malaysia must compare its public behaviour on national integrity with Finland, which came out as the world’s least corrupt and most ethical country in the past three years in the annual TI’s Corruption Perception Index (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.”
Mahathir’s 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!
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.
Yesterday was not the first speech by Abdullah on corruption, ethics and integrity in the public service in the past year. At the Ethics and Integrity Conference last August, Abdullah had declared that the government possessed ample political will to eradicate the scourge of corruption in both the public and private sectors, that “"Nothing else will do" as the Government had “zero tolerance for corruption”.
The time has come for Abdullah to give teeth to the war against corruption, with the first step the drafting of a 10-year Anti-Corruption Action Plan to be ranked among the world’s five least corrupt countries in the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index by 2013.
The 10-year Anti-Corruption Action Plan to create a corruption-free Malaysia and a culture of zero tolerance for corruption in the public service should have short-term and mid-term targets, such as:
Abdullah should present this 10-year Anti-Corruption Action Plan for formal debate and adoption by Parliament when it reconvenes on Sept. 2 for the 2004 Budget presentation so that it becomes a national anti-corruption vision and mission.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman