DAP calls for
quarterly report to Parliament on the campaign against corruption – with
the first report on the outcome of the 18 “high profile corruption cases”
and why the “open tender” government pledge has been violated in the award
of the Northern Selangor Landfill project
- on the 2003 Supplementary Estimates
by Lim Kit Siang
(Dewan Rakyat, Tuesday): It is now more than 100 days since the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has won the unprecedented mandate in the March general election with nine-tenth parliamentary majority, i.e. 198 out of 219 parliamentary seats, which increased to 199 seats when the Pasir Puteh parliamentary seat was awarded to UMNO by PAS.
Only last Thursday, Abdullah appeared on a RTM1 interview on the occasion of his 252nd day as Prime Minister.
I have said that Abdullah should be given three years before a definitive judgment is passed on his premiership, but this does not mean that preliminary and periodic assessments should not be made of his stewardship of the country.
In fact, such periodic assessments of his premiership, on the gap between promise and reality, are useful and necessary to assist and ensure that Abdullah keeps to his promises and pledges of a clean, incorruptible, efficient, accountable, transparent, people-oriented administration which is prepared to hear the truth from the people and his motto and slogan of “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang”. Today’s debate on the supplementary estimates is one such occasion.
Abdullah has raised high hopes that he is committed to an all-out war against corruption – but the question is how many in the Cabinet, the government and the Barisan Nasional are equally committed or have even become new converts to the campaign against corruption?
Malaysians are increasingly convinced that Abdullah is very alone in the all-out war against corruption, as he does not seem to have the full backing of the Barisan Nasional, his entire Cabinet and the whole government machinery in this campaign although they support him as Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s drive for a new political culture of zero tolerance for corruption has not gone very far beyond himself, leaving the political system which saw Malaysia’s Transparency International annual corruption perception index plunging 14 places in nine years, i.e. from 23rd placing in 1995 to 37th placing in 2003, basically untouched.
This is why there could be the farce and outrage in the Perak State Assembly last month where the DAP motion expressing full support for the Prime Minister’s campaign against corruption was rejected by the Perak State Assembly Speaker for being irrelevant and unimportant.
This is why there is the scandal of the RM100 million Barisan Nasional general election debt for the supply of posters and other election paraphernalia to the company Elegant Advisory, which when averaged out, would make every Barisan Nasional MP run afoul of the election law limiting election expenditures, without taking into account their other election expenses.
This is also why there could be the scandal of the cover-up of the 18 “high profile corruption cases”.
It is most unfortunate and distressing that the first meeting of the 11th Parliament from May 17 to June 14 failed to communicate to Malaysians and the world the powerful message that there is now a new-found political will on the part of the government and Parliament in an all-out war against corruption, because of three episodes:
Nazri had said in his reply during the winding-up of the debate on the Royal Address on 2nd June 2004 that the 18 “high profile” corruption cases referred to by the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim, in February this year had included former Perwaja Steel Bhd chief executive officer, Tan Sri Eric Chia and the former Land and Co-operative Development Minister, Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam, when clearly this was not the case.
Eric Chia was charged in court for corruption on February 10, 2004 and Kasitah Gaddam claimed trial to corruption charges on February 12, 2004. Rais Yatim only made the statement in Jelebu on February 13, 2004 that at least another 18 high-profile corruption cases were still with various authorities awaiting further action after the Eric Chia and Kasitah Gaddam cases.
In his speech in Parliament, Nazri had sought to give an accounting of the “18 high-profile corruption cases”, that 12 had been charged in court and another six awaiting decision of the Attorney-General. Nazri said that apart from Eric Chia and Kasitah Gaddam, the other 12 already charged in court were two former Selangor executive councilors, two former MPs, two from Permodolan Nasional Bhd, the general manager from Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia, the Telekom general manager, Kangar Municipal President and one former Perak executive councilor.
The case of the former Kangar Municipal President, Baharudin Ahmad, who was charged in Kangar Sessions Court with four counts of corruption totaling RM387,500 on 9th February occurred a week before Rais Yatim’s statement and cannot be included among the “18 high-profile corruption cases”. This is also the position with some of the cases cited by Nazri.
Furthermore, all the other cases cited by Nazri do not qualify to be “high-profile cases” as defined by Rais, “mempunyai reputasi kepentingan awam yang tinggi, profile yang tinggi dan mempunyai tanggungjawab yang berada pada strata teratas”.
But the most fatal blow, the coup de grace so to say, to Nazri’s attempt to explain away the “18 high-profile cases” had been delivered by none other than the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) director-general, Datuk Zulkipli Mat Noor, who said in Bintulu on 27th May that the “18 high-profile corruption cases” had been completed and that the ACA was awaiting the decision of the Attorney-General on the actions to be taken. Zulkipli’s Bintulu statement was reported by both Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia on 28.5.04.
Such confusion, contradictions and attempted “cover-ups” about the outcome of the “18 high-profile corruption” cases have created a serious credibility gap and a crisis of confidence as to whether the government has the political will to fulfill the Prime Minister’s call for an all-out war against corruption.
Yesterday, I received the following reply from the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk M. Kayveas to my question on the outcome of my two Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) reports in 1997 and 2002 against the then MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ling Liong Sik and whether it was appropriate for him to be made a “Tun” when his case was still under ACA investigation:
“Siasatan oleh Badan Pencegan Rasuah keatas aduan yang telah dibuat oleh Y.B. Ipoh Timur pada tahun 1997 dan 2002 terhadap bekas Menteri Pengangkutan telah pun selesai. Siasatan ke atas aduan yang pertama telah ditutup pada bulan Julai 1999 setelah dirujuk kepada pihak Jabatan Peguam Negara, manakala siasatan ke atas aduan kedua telah selesai pada bulan April 2004 dan telah dirujuk kepada pihak Jabatan Peguam Negara untuk keputusan.
“Cadangan untuk menganugerahkan bintang kepada beliau telah dirujuk untuk tapisan keutuhan BPR dan BPR tiada halangan anugerah gelaran ‘Tun’ dipertimbangkang dalam urusan pengurniaan Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan pada 11 Mei 2004.”
My first ACA report in June 1997 was how Ling Hee Leong, son of Liong Sik, could at the age of 27 embark on corporate acquisitions exceeding RM1.2 billion in a matter of months and whether there had been improper use and influence of his father’s political and Ministerial position.
My second ACA report arose from Soh Chee Wen’s Malaysiakini interview in May 2002 where Soh said that Liong Sik had asked him not to “implicate” him in the ACA investigations into my 1997 report.
Kayveas’ reply to my question raises the following questions:
Whenever questions are asked in Parliament about the government’s anti-corruption campaign, the National Integrity Plan (NIP) is invariably trotted out to demonstrate the government’s seriousness in combating corruption.
I want to ask how many MPs dare to say that they have read through the entire NIP? In fact, I would like to know how many MPs had actually seen copies of the NIP – let alone read them?
As NIP has not been tabled in Parliament, I dare say that the overwhelming majority of the MPs in the country have not seen, read or understood the NIP. This itself defeats the very purpose of the NiP, which must involve the active participation of all sectors of society, including MPs, in all stages of its evolution – formulation, implementation, monitoring and review!
When he first became Prime Minister, Abdullah pledged transparency in awarding government contracts and projects to reduce uncertainty and limit the opportunities for corruption.
Admitting that handling of the procurement and tender processes for government contracts lack transparency, Abdullah said direct negotiations for government project would be limited to “special cases” only.
If the government is serious about a National Integrity Plan, it should submit a quarterly report to Parliament on the campaign against corruption – with the first report explaining the outcome of the 18 “high profile corruption cases” and the reason and circumstances every time the government norm of open tendering is departed from, in particular why the “open tender” government pledge has been violated in the award of the Northern Selangor Landfill project.
The Department of Environment has put on its website, http://www.jas.sains.my/jas/TOR_BUKIT_TAGAR.htm, a public notice inviting public comments by 30th July on the Detailed Environment Impact Assessment (DEIA) report of the Northern Selangor Landfill project by Berjaya-KUB Consortium on the Bukit Tagar site at Sungai Tinggi, Hulu Selangor.
This appears to be one of the earliest “special cases” under the Abdullah premiership which is exempted from the principles of transparency and good governance, in being awarded by deviating from the norm of open tendering for all government contracts and projects.
This calls for an explanation, especially as I understand that the award was made despite objections from the Economic Planning Unit, especially as three sites had earlier been considered for the landfill, the other two being the Rawang and Serendah sites.
I am aware that there are pros and cons for the three sites for the Nothern Selangor Landfill as well as the competing parties, which I do not propose to go into at this stage, as what I am interested in is why the government has violated its own norm of open tendering for government contracts and projects to uphold the principles and transparency and good governance in this particular case.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman