Cabinet tomorrow should formally endorse the ACA objective that Malaysia aims to be one the world’s ten least corrupt nations, declaring it a national objective and giving the “Malaysia Boleh” spirit a new and useful meaning to pursue higher and noble national goals instead of baubles
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Tuesday): DAP applauds the statement by the Anti-Corruption Agency director-general Datuk Zaulkipli Mat Nor yesterday that the ACA wants to make Malaysia one of the world’s ten least corrupt nations and calls on the Cabinet tomorrow to formally endorse the ACA objective and to declare it as a national objective and give the “Malaysia Boleh” spirit a new and useful meaning to pursue higher and noble national goals instead of baubles.
I have made countless calls in my speeches and media statements this year alone on the ACA and the government to compare Malaysia with Finland to be ranked among the world’s ten least corrupt nations in the annual Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and I had given up hope that the ACA would have the vision and courage or that the government to have the political will and commitment to adopt such an objective to create a new culture of political integrity with zero tolerance for corruption in the country.
On November 7, I had suggested that before the adjournment of the parliamentary budget meeting on November 11, the Dewan Rakyat should pass an all-party motion to declare an all-out war against corruption, adopt the national objective for Malaysia to be ranked among the world’s top ten least corrupt nations within a decade and set down an annual parliamentary anti-corruption report and debate to monitor this goal.
Although the new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had started his premiership beautifully with a call and pledge for a “corruption-free” administration, Malaysians do not have high expectations that the ACA and the government would dare to be so visionary as to give a special meaning to the hackneyed “Malaysia Boleh” spirit by going beyond the pursuit of baubles for higher and noble goals.
I was proved wrong, however, by the ACA director-general, who had never impressed anyone with his leadership of the ACA in the past two years, when he said yesterday that the ACA wanted to bring Malaysia within the range of one to 10 in the annual TI corruption perception index, which was reported in all the media today with the Berita Harian giving the headline “BPR sasar jadikan Malaysia 10 negara bebas rasuah”.
Now that the hitherto insipid ACA had worked up the courage and vision to declare its goal to make Malaysia one of the world’s ten least corrupt nations, any silence or avoidance of the subject by the Cabinet tomorrow will be “deafeningly thunderous”, totally not in keeping with the pledge by Abdullah in his maiden official speech in Parliament on November 3 to lead a government which is “clean, incorruptible, modest and beyond suspicion”.
At the Ethics and Integrity Conference last August, Abdullah 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, that “"Nothing else will do" as the Government had “zero tolerance for corruption”.
He was then Deputy Prime Minister and still without the full reins of power. He is now Prime Minister and the least the Cabinet should do tomorrow is to embrace the ACA objective and declare as a national goal of Malaysia becoming internationally recognized as among the world’s ten least corrupt nations.
This is not going to be easy to achieve, as evident from Malaysia’s dismal rankings in the annual TI CPI in the past nine years, dropping this year to the worst 37th placing as illustrated from Malaysia’s record in the TI CPI from 1995 – 2003:
[CPI Score relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people, academics and risk analysts, and ranges between 10 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt).]
But as a journey of a thousand miles must start with a single step, Malaysia must take the first step to reverse Malaysia’s dismal record on corruption and embark on the national objective to become one of the world’s ten least corrupt nations. This first step is the Cabinet endorsement of this national goal, as such a goal cannot be achieved by ACA alone but must involve the entire government and society.
Malaysia can never hope to be ranked as one of the world’ ten least corrupt nations unless the country can build a National Integrity System which addresses corruption effectively and sustainably in a holistic approach.
Tandem with a Cabinet decision tomorrow to embrace the national objective of Malaysia becoming one of the world’s ten least corrupt nations should be a decision to create a National Integrity System, which is the sum total of the institutions and practices within the country that address aspects of maintaining the honesty and integrity of government and private sector institutions and their inter-relationships – from the executive, legislature and judiciary, to the private sector, the media and civil society organizations.
If the Cabinet tomorrow is committed and visionary enough to adopt the national goal of Malaysia becoming one of the world’s ten least corrupt nations and to establish a National Integrity System to achieve such a goal, November 19 will be a most meaningful day and could be even declared as an annual national “Anti-Corruption Day” in Malaysia to commemorate, monitor and reaffirm commitment to pursue this national target.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman