Media Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 8th November 2008: 

Three reasons why I have no confidence in Abdullah and that MCAC will not end up as another toothless tiger for anti-corruption like Suhakam in promoting human rights

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced at the National Integrity Convention in Kuching yesterday that the Cabinet had endorsed the formation of the Malaysian Commission on Anti-Corruption (MCAC) and that the MCAC Bill will be passed at the current meeting of Parliament to replace the Anti-Corruption Act 1997.

He said the MCAC is modeled after Hong Kong’s Independent Commission on Anti-Corruption and New South Wales’ Independent Commission Against Corruption, “which are among the best anti-corruption agencies in the world”.

I have no confidence that Abdullah has the political will to carry out meaningful anti-corruption reforms, and that the MCAC will not end up as another toothless tiger for anti-corruption like the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) with its statutory duty to promote and protect human rights!

My lack of confidence that Abdullah is capable of one final fling with a meaningful institutional reform before he ends his hapless five-year tenure as the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia is supported by at least three reasons:

1. The setting for Abdullah’s “important” announcement yesterday – the National Integrity Convention in Kuching. On stage applauding Abdullah’s announcement to fight corruption were leaders responsible for Malaysia’s relentless plunge, year after year, in international rankings on anti-corruption – whether Transparency International Corruption Perception Index from No. 37 in 2003 to No. 47 in 2008 or the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) annual corruption ranking, with Malaysia in 2008 placed No. 6 in Asia and getting the worst score of 6.37 (in a grading system with zero as the best possible score and 10 as the worst) since 1996. Malaysia was ranked No. 4 in Asia with a score of 5 in 1996!

2. Abdullah’s stance of fight against corruption – which has been all talk but no walk – is not echoed or supported by other Barisan Nasional leaders or Cabinet Ministers. I spoke on the corruption issue in the 2009 budget committee debate on the Prime Minister’s Department in Parliament on Wednesday, but the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz studiously avoided answering issues I raised about corruption in his one-hour reply on Thursday. This meant two things: firstly, lack of real political interest, will or commitment to fight corruption and secondly, defensive mentality on the issue, particularly with the serious problem of corruption of money politics in the ongoing Umno party elections.

3. Worst case of corruption and money politics in UMNO elections. Nobody dared to respond to my challenge in Parliament on Wednesday to stand up and deny my charge that the current Umno party elections is shaping up to be the worst case of corruption and money politics in the nation’s history.

I am not the only making this charge as top Umno leaders have publicly confessed to this, like Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen, Umno disciplinary board charman, who has virtually thrown up his hands in despair, declaring: “It seems to be getting worse with every party election…We are trying our best, but it seems we can’t deal with it completely. It is now rooted to the core.” And Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s shocking “No money, no talk” expose, why he could not get even a second nomination to contest for Umno Presidency because he refused to respond to overtures and bribe delegates in return for their votes!

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor