Call on Abdullah to set a personal example of public integrity for all public servants by publicly declaring his assets when he becomes the fifth Prime Minister next month
- DAP Forum on “Malaysia among world’s top ten least corrupt nations by 2013”
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Today’s press headline “DPM: Graft is cancerous – Abdullah: Corruption at whatever level is worrisome” (Star) on the interview by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi with the Asia News Network in Bangkok is the latest anti-corruption pronouncement by Abdullah in recent months.
What Malaysians are looking forward to are Abdullah’s first anti-corruption actions, for all these decades, Malaysia does not lack the law, infrastructure, capabilities, expertise and personnel to declare an all-out war against corruption to make Malaysia among the world’s top least corrupt nations, but only the lack of political will.
The question uppermost in the minds of Malaysians with the approach of the passing of the baton of the highest political office of the land from Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to Abdullah in less than seven weeks is whether the Abdullah premiership would bring about any change, in particular with regard to accountability, transparency and good governance. Will Abdullah, with his reputation as “Mr. Clean”, herald a serious and committed all-out war against corruption in keeping with his spate of anti-corruption pronouncements or will it be business-as-usual?
I am disappointed that there has been no response whatsoever to the invitation to Abdullah to tonight’s forum, or alternatively, to delegate a Cabinet Minister to represent him to address the issue as to whether the “Malaysia Boleh” spirit could be steered to more meaningful pursuits like ranking Malaysia among the world’s top ten least corrupt nations by 2013.
I do not expect Abdullah to personally come tonight, but I am disappointed that he has not sent a Cabinet Minister to represent him, as it appears to be a signal that Malaysians should not expect much real action to root out corruption when he takes over the government leadership although there would be many beautiful speeches about the curse and cancer of corruption.
I am not surprised that the Director-General of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), Dato’ Zulkipli bin Mat Noor has spurned our invitation and is absent tonight and has not sent a senior ACA officer to represent him.
Over a month ago, I made two visits to the grand office of the ACA headquarters at Putrajaya but on both occasion, DAP MPs and I were unable to meet Zulkipli. I learnt however that his driver was the envy of the ACA staff and those of nearby government offices, as he has hardly any work to do – with the ACA director-general outstation if not out of the country most of the time.
In his two years as ACA director-general, becoming the first policeman to be appointed to this sensitive and critical post, Zulkipli had probably spent more time outside the country than anyone of his predecessors to attend international conferences, covering countries including Switzerland, Austria (at least twice), Netherlands, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea and China – all from the ACA budget and taxpayers’ expenses.
Clearly, Zulkipli finds it more comfortable and pleasant in the era of globalization to travel the world to attend conferences to address the problem of corruption on a global level than to have to tackle local corruption, globe-trotting to conferences with themes like “Global Forum On Fighting Corruption and Safeguard Integrity”, “Anti-Corruption Action Plan for Asia-Pacific” and “Promoting Integrity and Fighting Corruption in the Public Servant”.
Zulkipli should be reminded that he is paid by the Malaysian taxpayers not to lecture other countries about anti-corruption action plans or how to promote integrity in the public servant, but to deliver these very services and public goods to Malaysian citizens in the country!
The 2001 Anti-Corruption Agency Annual Report states as follows:
However, the ACA does not have much to show for its stated Vision, Mission or Objective as it has not dared to announce any Anti-Corruption Action Plan or set for itself public and measurable targets and benchmarks to enable an annual or periodic assessment of their success.
Dare ACA accept the challenge of “Malaysia Boleh” and adopt the target of Malaysia achieving the ranking among the world’s top ten least corrupt nations within a decade by 2013?
In his speech at the Transparency International Malaysia National Integrity Medal award ceremony recently, 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 the Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index.
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.”
In the final analysis, whether ACA will cease to be a paper-tiger when faced with “ikan yu” corruption will depend on whether the new Prime Minister can muster the political will to give teeth to the whole paraphernalia of anti-corruption laws, personnel, mechanisms and infrastructure to operate at optimum efficiency.
DAP calls on Abdullah to set a personal example of public integrity for all public servants, including Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, by publicly declaring his assets when he becomes the fifth Prime Minister next month – for this will be best and strongest manifestation of “Malaysia Boleh” and his political will to root out corruption in Malaysia to create a culture of political integrity in public life and zero tolerance for corruption.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman