DAP supports Abdullah’s intention to declare war on private sector corruption but wants to remind him that he has hardly scratched the surface of the problem of public sector corruption – with Malaysians still waiting for the nabbing of the first “big fish”
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Sunday): In his interview with local press editors on the occasion of his three months as Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the policy initiatives he had announced had created a good feeling and greater confidence in the government.
He promised to pursue the agenda he had spelt out with vigour and dedication, stressing that “I have the duty now to deliver what I promised”. Among other things, Abdullah said corruption took place not just in the civil service but also in the private sector and that “we must get rid of it” as it added to the cost of doing business.
DAP supports Abdullah’s intention to declare war on private sector corruption but wants to remind him that he has hardly scratched the surface of the problem of public sector including political corruption, which had caused Malaysia to plunge 14 placings in nine years in the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, i.e. from 23rd position in 1995 to 37th place in 2003.
It would be a mistake to believe that the establishment of a National Integrity Institute is equivalent to a great leap forward in the fight against corruption, just as countries all over the world have proved that the establishment of anti-corruption agencies per se cannot be equated with any winning war against corruption.
Abdullah had rightly said when addressing the Fifth Public Service Council Meeting on 9th January that it would be sheer hypocrisy to tell government officials to behave when political leaders are themselves involved in corruption – cakap tak serupa bikin (do not do as they say).
It would be similarly regarded as sheer hypocrisy if the government focuses its attention on private sector corruption when it had hardly scratched the surface of the problem of public sector including political corruption.
Abdullah would pass the first major test of an anti-corruption drive when the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) nabs a “big fish”. Last week, the ACA arrested a Negri Sembilan State Assemblyman for an alleged RM3,000 bribe, which was just a small fry when compared to “big fishes” in corruption and financial scandals running into billions or even tens of billions of ringgit. When will the first “big fish” be nabbed in Abdullah’s war against corruption?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman