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What is Cabinet Committee on
Integrity doing to turn back the tide of corruption which is heading towards
No. 50th ranking in Transparency International Corruption Index
(Parliament, Friday): Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is both right and wrong when he said that it is unfair to say the government is not serious in fighting corruption simply because Tan Sri Eric Chia has been acquitted.
He said yesterday that one should not judge the government’s earnestness in fighting graft based on a single case such as that of the former managing director of Perwaja Steel Sdn. Bhd who was acquitted of criminal breach of trust charges involving RM76.4 million on Tuesday.
Najib is right that normally the government record whether in its battle against corruption or any other policy matter should not be judged on the basis of one case, except that the Eric Chia corruption trial bulked large as it was hailed as the most high-profile evidence of the Abdullah administration’s resolve to launch a crackdown on corruption.
As the most high-profile anti-corruption case that had been thrown out of court, especially after the failure to nab the 18 “big fishes” which the Abdullah administration had earlier promised to arrest and prosecute for corruption, Najib should realise that the Eric Chia case has assumed the epic proportion of the test case of the Abdullah premiership to “walk the talk” to fight corruption.
The circumstances of Eric Chia’s acquittal – where the defence was not called because the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case – was a most ignominous reflection on the government’s will to fight corruption as well as the professionalism of the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Gani Patial and his prosecutors.
As the Attorney-General is appealing against Eria Chia’s acquittal, Malaysians will have to suspend judgment until outcome of the appeal.
However, Najib and the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should realize why the government’s anti-corruption campaign is so intimately tied to the outcome of the Eric Chia case – as there has been no other higher profile case in the past 44 months.
In the last general election, the overwhelming majority of Malaysians believed that Abdullah is a new broom to sweep out corruption in Malaysia.
Today, in a matter of three years, the overwhelming majority of Malaysians are disenchanted that Abdullah had failed them, as there is not only no seriousness to honour the election pledge to wipe out corruption, the corruption situation had worsened with Malaysia dropping a further seven points from No. 37 in 2003 to No. 44 in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI), with all signs pointing to the country heading further south in the TI CPI 2007 towards the No. 50th ranking – ironically in conjunction with Malaysia’s 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations.
Abdullah and Najib should stop denying the undeniable – that Malaysia has gone further down the slippery slope of corruption in the past 44 months despite all the rhetoric of fighting corruption and promoting national integrity.
The Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity is expected to meet before the current parliamentary meeting adjourns on July 10 to end its impasse and disarray following the public resignation of Tan Sri Bernard Dompok as Chairman.
There is a Cabinet Committee on Integrity headed by the Prime Minister. What is this Cabinet Committee on Integrity doing to turn back the tide of corruption in Malaysia, with so many questions about national integrity unresolved and unanswered – whether the outcome of investigations into serious corruption allegations against the former Anti-Corruption Agency director-general, the Deputy Internal Security Minister or the Inspector-General of Police?
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman