Malaysia should make use of her influence as Chair of NAM and OIC to ensure that the new Convention Against Corruption could come into immediate force with 30 ratifications when it opens for signing at the high-level Political Conference in Mexico on December 9-11
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Thursday): It is most disappointing that the Cabinet yesterday failed to give full back-up to the statement by the Anti-Corruption Agency director-general Datuk Zaulkipli Mat Nor on Monday that ACA wishes to make Malaysia one of the world’s ten least corrupt nations by declaring it as a national objective and giving the “Malaysia Boleh” spirit a new meaning to pursue high and noble national goals.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will be opening an international seminar on corruption which Malaysia is hosting from Dec. 3 to 5, which will be attended by 34 countries from the Asia-Pacific region.
He should use the occasion to make a policy announcement of Malaysia aiming to be one of the world’s ten least corrupt nations to place the country in the forefront of nations in the world in creating a new culture of political integrity with zero tolerance for corruption in the country. This will give meaning and substance to his pledge at his maiden official speech in Parliament to lead a government and country which is “clean, incorruptible, modest and beyond suspicion”.
In this connection, DAP calls on Abdullah to state whether the Malaysian government has decided to give full support to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and will be one of the signatory countries at the High-Level Political Conference for the Purpose of Signing the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Merida, Mexico on December 9-11, 2003. The Convention will enter into force when it has been ratified by 30 countries.
Malaysia should be in the international forefront and be one of the 30 signatory countries to ensure that the Convention could come into immediate force at the Mexico Conference itself.
Malaysia should in fact use its position and influence as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to ensure that there would be at least 30 countries to sign and ratify the Convention Against Corruption in Mexico to bring it into immediate force.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which serviced the Ad Hoc Committee established by the UN General Assembly in December 2000 to draft the Convention, said that the first global anti-corruption instrument showed the international community’s determination to do something concrete against corruption – representing a global response to the global challenge posed by corruption worldwide.
The Convention will engage the crime prevention and criminal justice systems of all countries. The treaty recognizes that the problem of corruption goes beyond crime. Corruption impoverishes countries and deprives their citizens of good governance. It destabilizes economic systems, even of whole regions. Organized crime, terrorism, and other illegal activities flourish. In many countries, corruption erodes basic public functions and the quality of life of people. Bribery is universally regarded as a crime, but it also reflects socio-economic problems that require broad-based preventive measures, and the involvement of society at large.
In addition to providing for measures to combat corruption in both private and public sectors, the Convention is groundbreaking in introducing into an international legal instrument the concept, description and processes for international co-operation in the recovery of stolen assets. The Convention also establishes the right of persons who have suffered damage from corruption to initiate legal proceedings against responsible parties.
Abdullah should also clarify whether Malaysia will support, sign and ratify the optional provision in the Convention on legislative and policy changes to make the funding of political parties transparent and accountable.
The Cabinet meeting yesterday had another cause for disappointment –its failure to take decisive action to address the scandal of the abuses and corruption of the honours system which had hogged the mainstream media recently.
This is not the first time that the abuses and corruption of the honours system had been in the news. The question is whether this time it would lead to any effective action to end such a rot or whether the fuss would die down as in the past without any effective follow-up action to surface later for another cycle of short-lived public outrage.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Rais Yatim, had said that only three states were not involved in the datukship-for-sale racket, with the market price for the award ranging from RM50,000 to RM200,000.
Yesterday, he said after the Cabinet meeting that the Prime Minister would convey the Federal Government’s views on the award of medals and title to the Conference of Rulers so that there would be “a more professional system with responsibility and transparency to totally avoid allegations that a title depends on money and so on”.
The Cabinet decision is a letdown, for although nobody expects the call of the New Sunday Times editorial “Correcting a national disgrace” for the prosecution of the buyers and sellers of the datukship-for-sale racket and the stripping of the awards from these errant recipients to be acted upon, there should at least be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the nominations for the national and state awards to restore dignity and public respect to the honours system. Rais should clarify whether Abdullah would be making this proposal to the Conference of Rulers.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman