The Federal deputy minister from Sarawak under ACA investigation should be identified so as to be fair to the other four deputy ministers from the state and not to drag them into the mud of corruption
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Wednesday): The Federal deputy minister from Sarawak who is under Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) investigation for malpractice should be identified so as to be fair to the other four deputy ministers from the state and not to drag them into the mud of corruption.
Outgoing Sarawak ACA director Mohd Jamidan Abdullah revealed yesterday that a federal deputy minister from Sarawak is being investigated for malpractice, and a report will be submitted to the public prosecutorís office for the next course of action once the investigation is completed.
There are five deputy ministers from Sarawak at the federal level, viz: Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum (Foreign Affairs), Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew (Housing and Local Government), Datuk Dr Tiki Lafe (Rural and Regional Development), Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas (Transport) and Joseph Entulu Belaun (Prime Ministerís Department).
Everyone of the five Sarawak federal deputy ministers will now be under a cloud in the public eye as to his integrity, which is most unfair. The Federal deputy minister concerned should be publicly identified so as to clear the other four deputy ministers of any public suspicion that they are under ACA investigation. In fact, the deputy minister under ACA investigation should be suspended or be asked to go on indefinite leave without pay until he has been fully cleared of corruption.
The very low-key public response to media reports of a Federal deputy minister under ACA investigation is most noteworthy, for it reflected a very wary and frustrated citizenry after 15 months of waiting and disappointments for an all-out war against corruption against the high and mighty, without fear or favour.
Malaysians, who had harboured high hopes that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would usher in a new political culture of national integrity with zero tolerance for corruption by launching an all-out war against the corrupt, at least retiring well-known personalities from public offices of trust if not arresting and prosecuting in court, are getting more and more cynical and skeptical that there is the political will in government to effect meaningful and systemic changes in the landscape of corruption.
This was confirmed three months ago when Malaysia fell two places from 37th to 39th placing in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2004 as compared to a year ago, without attracting any murmur of concern from those in authority.
The only difference in the past 15 months is a National Integrity Plan, which cannot per se guarantee greater public integrity in national life, as illustrated by the example of Bolivia which became even more corrupt after the launch of its national integrity plan.
Abdullah should rekindle the hopes of Malaysians that there would be a sea-change in the war against corruption under his administration, before all such hopes are completely crushed. Time for him to declare an all-out war against corruption is fast running out.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman