Call on Abdullah to support set-up of Select Committee on Integrity in June Parliament to oversee National Integrity Plan, Anti-Corruption Agency and anti-corruption campaign
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Saturday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi missed the opportunity in his keynote address at the World Ethics and Integrity Forum 2005 at the Malaysia Integrity Institute yesterday to inject a new sense of commitment in a national war of zero tolerance for corruption.
Instead of giving a new fillip to the faltering campaign against corruption and to restore the hopes of Malaysians besieged by deepening and widening disappointment at the lack of results, Abdullah seems to have succumbed as a new victim of denial syndrome in refusing to acknowledge the continued pervasiveness and seriousness of corruption in the country in the past 18 months.
There have been comments that having both Abdullah and the former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew appearing in the same conference on integrity and corruption is not fair to Abdullah, as Kuan Yew had delivered with Singapore internationally recognized as among the world’s least corrupt nations while Abdullah has yet to deliver – with more and more Malaysians believing that he could not deliver – his pledge on becoming Prime Minister 18 months ago to make good governance and anti-corruption the centerpiece of his administration.
But what cannot escape notice, however, are the different prescriptions between Kuan Yew and Abdullah about fighting high-level corruption.
In his speech at the World Ethics and Integrity Forum 2005 on Thursday on going for the “big takers in the upper echelons” in Singapore, Kuan Yew said: “We also amended the law to put the burden of proof on the defendant or accused if he/she had more assets than his income as reported in his income tax returns, from his employment or business could have given him. He has to disprove the presumption of guilt that they were gained by corrupt means”.
During the Q & A, when asked whether the late president Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, who drew a salary of US5,000 (RM19,000) a year, was living within his means, Kuan Yew answered: "Look at his wife."
Abdullah gave a completely different message, raising “a cautionary hand against those who are advising him to make more corruption-related arrests to boost his popularity levels”.
Abdullah declared that “no one should be prosecuted for corruption on the basis of suspicion or perception alone, no matter how strong the suspicion”. He said: “At the end of the day, it can only be hard, cold evidence that holds sway."
Abdullah’s speech can only give comfort rather than “the fear of God” to the corrupt among the high-and-mighty, that they can continue in their ostentatious life-styles in Malaysia, living obscenely beyond their known means of income, when in Singapore, their ostentatious life-styles would be the “hard, cold” presumption of their corruption!
Malaysia should not make the mistake of many other countries indulging in the hocus-pocus of fighting corruption, such as devising a National Integrity Plan and the establishment of a National Integrity Institute, without actually fighting corruption!
It is already one year since the Prime Minister launched the National Integrity Plan, but it rates as one of the national plans which the 25 millions Malaysians, including the 219 Members of Parliament, know least about!
As I said in Parliament during the debate on the Members of Parliament (Remuneration)(Amendment) Bill on Tuesday, it is most shocking that one year after its launching, most MPs have not read or understood the National Integrity Plan and are oblivious and ignorant about its controversial five-year objective of TEKAD 2008 for Malaysia to be ranked at least No. 30 in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2008, as well as its six-strategy Action Plan involving Parliament, such as a Parliamentary Select Committee on National Integrity.
In the past one year, I had repeatedly called for the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on National Integrity with specific responsibility to monitor and oversee the National Integrity Plan, the Anti-Corruption Agency and the government’s anti-corruption campaign.
I call on Abdullah to agree to the establishment of the Parliamentary Select Committee on National Integrity, headed by an Opposition MP as Chairman, in the June meeting of Parliament to demonstrate that the Prime Minister himself supports the National Integrity Plan.
Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman