Abdullah should come to Parliament on Monday to explain how he proposes to resuscitate his 17-month anti-corruption campaign which has lost steam without ever picking up any real momentum
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Saturday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should come to Parliament on Monday to explain how he proposes to resuscitate his 17-month anti-corruption campaign which has lost steam without ever picking up any real momentum.
Abdullah has the opportunity to give Parliament and the nation on Monday an assessment of the effect and outcome of his anti-corruption drive, and even more important, how to give a new kick-start to the campaign, as the first question on Monday’s parliamentary Q & A is my question to the Prime Minister on the elevation of the Anti-Corruption Agency to be answerable only to Parliament as the centrepiece of his “zero-tolerance for corruption” campaign.
The country and the world are waiting for Abdullah’s next move on the anti-corruption front for two reasons: firstly, the national and international perception that Abdullah has failed to “walk the talk” in the past 17 months with regard to his pledge and commitment to bring to book the corrupt and crooked, regardless or rank or status; and secondly, the highly damaging revelation by his son-in-law and UMNO Youth deputy leader, Khairy Jamaluddin that after the unprecedented landslide victory in the March 2004 general election, Abdullah decided to give immunity to all “old corruption cases” involving Barisan Nasional leaders by not “digging up the past” and to be only concerned about “new corruption cases”.
This is the statement made by Khairy in the International Herald Tribune report entitled “Leader underwhelms Malaysians” dated March 29, 2005, which has not been denied by Khairy despite his many clarifications:
“As for criticism that the government is not pushing hard enough against corruption, Jamaluddin said Abdullah decided after the election not to dig up the past. ‘We decided not to focus on retroactive actions,’ he said, ‘but rather look forward’.”
The attempts by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz in the past two weeks to play down and deny the clear import of Khairy’s statement do not wash, as it is public knowledge that although not a Cabinet Minister, Khairy is no ordinary UMNO Youth deputy leader, being the key strategist in the Prime Minister’s policy inner circle privy to information and exercising greater influence and power not enjoyed by the overwhelming majority of the Cabinet Ministers, including Nazri.
The unseemly and protracted Ministerial uproar over the Malaysiakini’s three-minute April Fool prank on the impending graft charges against three Cabinet Ministers and one Mentri Besar, with Ministers demanding their “pound of flesh” for their fright and panic for the few moments when they believed the Malaysiakini report, is not flattering reflection either on Cabinet and government integrity in the context of a lackluster campaign against corruption.
Abdullah should end the whole Cabinet charade by using his Parliamentary appearance on Monday to lay the whole issue to rest, refocusing Cabinet and parliamentary priority on how to win national and international confidence in a “zero-tolerance for corruption” campaign rather than expending scarce resources and energies to penalize Malaysiakini for its public-spiritedness in the April Fool prank to provoke national attention and debate on the issue of corruption.
Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman