RM157 million assets seized by MACC this year only drop in the ocean if Perak Sultan’s warning against grand corruption taken seriously

The Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Razali Ibrahim revealed in Senate yesterday that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had seized and frozen assets RM157.3 million this year, RM9.3 million last year and RM19.3 million in 2014.

The RM157 million assets seized and frozen by MACC this year is only a drop in the ocean if the Perak Sultan, Sultan Nazrin Shah’s concern over grand corruption is taken seriously.

Speaking at the Perak Maulidur Rasul 1438H celebrations in Tanjong Malim on Monday, Sultan Nazrin Shah expressed his concern over corruption and criminal breach of trust committed openly by highly-educated and high-ranking individuals.

He said that based on media reports, corrupt practices and criminal breach of trust were not only rampant but even occurring on a very large scale.

Sultan Nazrin said history had shown that criminal breach of trust and corrupt practices, and ravenous use of power were factors that had caused the downfall of many governments and collapse of civilisations.

He said: “In the history of Islamic governments, many among the leaders of the Bani Umaiyyah (Umayyad Caliphate) and Bani Abbas (Abbasid Caliphate), due to their preoccupation with worldly pleasures, were willing to use their wealth to remain in power.

“When power was regarded as an opportunity to fulfill personal interest and not as a trust, the functioning of the government would be impaired and ultimately resulted in its downfall and collapse of a civilization.”

The Perak Sultan’s focus on “grand corruption” involving people in high places in government is most apt and timely, for Malaysians and the world are asking why China is catching “tigers” and Indonesia “crocodiles”, but Malaysia is not able to catch a single “shark” in the war against grand corruption.

In China, a million of the party’s 90 million members have been sanctioned for corruption-related offences since Xi Jinping took power as President – including scores of officials of deputy ministerial or higher status, demonstrating that high status within the party is no protection for “tigers” against investigation and conviction.

In Indonesia, high-profile “crocodile” anti-corruption cases involving former Ministers and top officials ending in their imprisonment have become common occurrences.

But in Malaysia, a “shark” has still to be netted in the anti-corruption campaign.

Instead, anti-corruption leaders like Pakatan Harapan MPs Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli, Bersih officials Ambiga Sreenivasan and Maria Chin, and student leaders like Anis Syafiqah Md Yusuf are persecuted and penalized, while “sharks” responsible for grand corruption in Malaysia are allowed to go scotfree.

Razali’s announcement in the Senate that the MACC had seized and frozen RM157.3 million this year seemed impressive, but it would appear that the entire amount was probably due to one case – the Sabah State Water Department corruption case – and if so, it is a mere drop in the ocean if the MACC has the freedom to go after the “sharks” in the corruption waters in Malaysia.

“Grand corruption” has been defined by Transparency International (TI) as “the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many, and causes serious and widespread harm to individuals and society. It often goes unpunished.”

Transparency International has described grand corruption as “one of the great unresolved legal challenges of our day”.

It said: “With its serious and often global effects, combating grand corruption must be the responsibility of the international community.

“For this to happen grand corruption should be treated as an international crime.

“Transparency International has developed a legal definition of grand corruption to encourage advocates, scholars, lawmakers, and others to seek ways to enhance accountability of high-level public officials and others whose corruption harms their citizens egregiously and too often with impunity.

“If designated as an international crime countries could exercise universal jurisdiction, similar to the treatment of war crimes.

“Our targets: the leaders who co-opt the institutions of state for their own personal gain and sweep all before them to do that: human rights, human dignity, equality, development.”

Is the MACC and the Malaysian Government prepared to support TI in this global fight against “grand corruption” and has the MACC a special strategy to fight grand corruption in Malaysia.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah