NAM and OIC should help Susilo to ensure accountability, transparency and integrity in the receipt, use and monitoring of disbursement of US$8 billion tsunami aid
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Wednesday): DAP joins the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in extending congratulations to Mahmoud Abbas on his election as Palestinian Authority president, succeeding Yasser Arafat.
It is pertinent to note that many Palestinians view Abbas, who is also known as Abu Mazen, as having two primary challenges – easing the Israeli occupation and confronting corruption in the Palestinian Authority and reforming its institutions.
Even Ghaz Hamed, the editor of the Hamas weekly al-Risala, said that the battle against corruption was as important as dealing with Israel.
In Indonesia, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made the fight against corruption a priority of his five-year term, but he never expected that he would be put to the test in so quick, international and critical a manner.
In an unprecedented global outpouring of compassion and charity to the unprecedented tsunami catastrophe, pledges of aid from both governments, international agencies and private sources have topped US$8 billion – the bulk of it earmarked for Indonesia as the country with millions of tsunami victims, whether dead, injured or displaced.
This has spawned a tsunami of fears – that corruption will divert big chunks of the aid money before it reaches the disaster zones and the millions of tsunami victims.
This is why Indonesian activists are busy lobbying that mechanisms for transparency and accountability be put in place to ensure that the billions of dollars of tsunami aid will go to the right people in the right way and why the United Nations has pledged to do its utmost to ensure financial transparency in the tsunami disaster relief efforts, asking an independent firm of U.S. auditors to monitor the aid operation.
The corruption watchdog Transparency International has said that nations providing aid to the devastated tsunami-stricken countries must take every measure to ensure donations are not misused.
These two episodes show the growing centrality and paramountcy of corruption concerns in all systems of governance, national, regional or international.
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) should help Susilo to ensure accountability, transparency and integrity in the receipt, use and monitoring of billion of dollars of tsunami aid to make it a model operation where corruption, mismanagement and abuses of power are obviated by the fullest glare of international accountability and transparency, ensuring value-for-money and safety and quality standards in the reconstruction process.
This is also why NAM and OIC - with Malaysia as Chair for both - must play a leading role in the evolution of an international culture and benchmark of integrity by helping to shape the checks-and-balances mechanisms over the tsunami aid funds.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman