Call on Abdullah to ensure that the Special Code of Ethics for Ministers includes their public declaration of assets and those of their next-of-kin or he will spark a second round of nation-wide disappointment over his pledge for a clean and incorruptible government after the 2004 general election
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Friday): Yesterday Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim handed over his previous duties related to legal affairs including the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to the newly-appointed Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad as he has been demoted to the comparatively light-weight Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage.
At the handing-over ceremony, Rais gave Malaysians reasons to believe and hope that a new chapter of Ministerial accountability, integrity and incorruptibility is to begin in the country.
Bernama reported Rais as saying that the special code of ethics for Barisan Nasional Ministers and elected representatives was approved by the new Cabinet at its first meeting on Wednesday, and that among other things, the code would require Barisan Nasional Ministers and elected representatives to declare their assets and abide by the leadership’s directive.
Cabinet Ministers have been required to declare their assets to the Prime Minister for over two decades, but this has not prevented the Barisan Nasional government from becoming so “corrupt and rotten to the very core with no single aspect of life untouched by corruption” - that the confession of a “corrupt and rotten” government and the promise of a clean-up were used as the theme of a Barisan Nasional full-page advertisement in all the Chinese newspapers during the short 7 ½-day election campaign.
Malaysian history has proven that it is worthless for Ministers to declare their assets to the Prime Minister when such declaration should be made publicly, accessible to every interested Malaysian who wish to scrutinize and monitor it.
DAP calls on Abdullah to strike out boldly on a new path of public integrity in Malaysia by adopting the innovative, indispensable and inspiring rule requiring Cabinet Ministers to publicly declare their assets and those of their next-of-kin to set the highest standards of Ministerial integrity and perception of integrity.
He should ensure that the Special Code of Ethics for Ministers includes their public declaration of assets and those of their next-of-kin or he will spark a second round of nation-wide disappointment over his pledge for a clean and incorruptible government after winning the biggest mandate for any Prime Minister in the nation’s46-year history.
Ministers who are not prepared to publicly declare their assets and those of their next-of-kin should be asked to resign from the Cabinet and make way for those who are more serious about integrity and perception of integrity.
Abdullah’s failure to require all the Ministers to publicly declare their assets and those of next-of-kin will be a second major letdown for Malaysians who had given the Barisan Nasional government an unprecedented nine-tenth parliamentary majority – the first letdown being the failure to establish an Integrity Cabinet with no member included who suffers from the grave credibility problem about integrity or perception of integrity.
It would appear that there are Ministers who are not aware of the “corruption-free” pledge of the Barisan Nasional 2004 general election manifesto of “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang”, which prompted the Prime Minister to tell all the Ministers in the first Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that he “wanted everybody to read and fully understand the Barisan manifesto”. This was revealed by the Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar when recounting what happened at the first Cabinet meeting. (Star 1.4.04)
The President of Kuala Lumpur Society for Transparency and Integrity, Tunku Abdul Aziz announced yesterday that he had sent out “personal integrity declaration forms” to cabinet ministers and their deputies to make public their pledge that he/she would not, "under any circumstances be a party to corruption, defined as the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain."
Abdullah should direct all Ministers and their deputies to respond positively to the latest public integrity initiative of the local affiliate of Transparency International, by going a step further with the periodic public declaration of their assets and next-of-kin.
The Prime Minister should make public the special code of ethics for Ministers and elected representatives which had been approved by the Cabinet at its first meeting on Wednesday to allow for public scrutiny and debate as to whether it is adequate to meet the Barisan Nasional manifesto pledge of a clean, honest and corruption-free administration.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor