Speech (5) by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on 2010 Budget on Thursday, 29th October 2009:
Malaysia’s losing battle for international competitiveness
What is the credibility of Najib talking about a total innovation of the Malaysian economy and nation when Malaysia is facing a losing battle in international competitiveness because of continuing loss of confidence in key national institutions whether judiciary, the civil service, the police, the MACC or the Election Commission?
This is the reason for the two recent adverse global rankings for Malaysia, falling three places from 21st to 24th ranking in the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2009-2010 and a drop of two places in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2010: Reforming Through Difficult Times from 21st to 23rd placing.
The first seven months’ of Najib’s premiership have not seen any restoration of public confidence in the key national institutions but the reverse whether in the strategic areas to fight corruption and ensure integrity; keep crime low to protect the safety of citizens, tourists and investors; or to uphold the administration of justice.
This is why Najib’s budget presentation last Friday ended so disastrously, when he tried to capitalise on the Umno/BN by-election victory in Bagan Pinang as testimony of a national transformation to greater heights.
Najib’s last two sentences in his speech were virtually drowned in the shouts by Pakatan Rakyat MPs with their spontaneous chant of “Rasuah” – which was a dubious parliamentary record in the past five decades, not only for a maiden budget speech but also for any budget presentation by former Finance Ministers.
Najib had earlier failed to make any impression on MPs when he devoted two cursory paragraphs of his budget speech to “Combatting Corruption”, but which did not evince any political will on his part to break the back of the problem of rampant corruption in Malaysia.
What Najib has to show for the battle against corruption in his first seven months as Prime Minister is quite a dismal record, reinforced by the Umno/BN nomination of a tainted candidate for money politics and corruption as a candidate in the Bagan Pinang by-election – and the Umno/BN victory in Bagan Pinang is a major setback in the battle against corruption.
Is Malaysia heading for the worst Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranking and score in 15 years, when the TI CPI 2009 is released next month?
As pointed out by Transparency International Malaysia last month during the launch of the country report of the TI Global Corruption Report (GCR) 2009, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and other “reforms” introduced by the government have so far been ineffective in fighting corruption.
These measures have not produced the desired results and so the public perception of corruption remains unchanged.
Malaysians are fed up with the status quo and the unbearable effects of corruption in the country. The Global Corruption Barometer 2009 surveyed released in May showed that 70 per cent of Malaysians believe that the government is ineffective in fighting corruption.
In contrast, although Indonesia has a far worse position in the corruption perception index than Malaysia, 76% of its people believe their government is effective in fighting corruption.
The public perception position for Malaysia is likely to be even worse than the Global Corruption Barometer 2009 survey in May after two further developments:
For quite some time, there had been increasing complaints that the MACC had become a law unto itself, violating the basic constitutional and human rights of witnesses and suspects interrogated by MACC officers.
Even the police are afraid of the MACC because of the powers the MACC officers hold over the police in corruption investigations.
This is unacceptable and intolerable. I call on the Prime Minister to make public the number of reports which had been lodged against MACC (previously ACA) officers for abuse of power and use of physical force in interrogations in the past three years. Furthermore, what percentage of these reports against MACC (or ACA) officers for physical violence and torture during interrogation had been investigated.
The first step to restore public confidence in the MACC is to bring the MACC and all its officers within the ambit of the law as no democratic country can allow an institution to become a monster or a Frankenstein with no regard whatsoever to the rudiments of the rule of law and the most fundamental notion of human rights, as there should not be another Teoh Beng Hock murder.
In this connection, I call on the authorities concerned to fully co-operate with Teoh Beng Hock’s family who wants to get to the bottom of Teoh’s death and is asking for exhumation of Teoh’s remains for a second autopsy by renowned Thai pathologist Dr. Porntip Rojanasunand after her inquest testimony of Teoh’s death as 80% probability of homicide and 20% suicide.
Other instances why there has been a deepening crisis of confidence in the institutional independence, efficiency and professionalism in the past seven months greatly undermining Malaysia’s international competitiveness despite Najib’s “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” include:
For the police, in the last week of July, the Home Ministry website carried an opinion poll whether the people felt safe, with the following results:
Never before had the re-appointment of an IGP attracted greater opposition from all sectors of society, whether MPs in the form of a Parliamentary Roundtable or civil societies, especially on two grounds:
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor