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Abdullah should not allow Mahathir to �turn the table� and hijack the anti-corruption halo as well as accuse of Abdullah administration of corruption by launching an all-out war against corruption and malpractices



by Lim Kit Siang  

(Pasir Pinji
, Ipoh, Thursday) A lot of things have happened in the past 34 months since Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the fifth Prime Minister inspiring  Malaysians with high expectations that he would fulfill his reform pledges and spearhead an anti-corruption drive which would end the KKN abuses of the previous Mahathir premiership, i.e. corruption, cronyism and nepotism.


It was on this hope and promise that Abdullah secured the biggest electoral mandate in Malaysian history, winning 91 per cent of the parliamentary seats, in the March 2004 general election.


However, for the past 34 months, the Abdullah premiership has been very long on rhetoric on reform but  very  short in anti-corruption results � and it is most shocking that in his recent TV3 interview, the Prime Minister  protested  that it was too early for the public to judge him as  he had only been �10 minutes in a football game�!


This is why there is the recent extraordinary spectacle of the political table being turned, with Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad not only hijacking the anti-corruption halo of Abdullah but even accusing the Abdullah administration of corruption.


When Mahathir said yesterday that he has  proof that the government covered up a graft investigation involving a former Cabinet minister � as he  knew that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) had investigated a former minister who had served in his Cabinet and was ready to file charges but the case had been dropped suddenly after he stepped down as Prime Minister in 2003 � an important line had been crossed.

Mahathir also  said he had further evidence of government corruption but was doubtful it would be seriously investigated.


We are suddenly hearing Mahathir saying the very things which DAP leaders and MPs had been saying during the long Mahathir premiership � questioning the independence of the ACA as well as lambasting the Official Secrets Act as protecting corruption while penalizing those who expose corruption.


Abdullah should not allow Mahathir to �turn the table�,  hijack the anti-corruption halo and  accuse the Abdullah administration of corruption by launching an all-out war against corruption and malpractices.


For a start, he should give a report card of his administration in anti-corruption in the past 34 months, in particular what has happened to the 18 high-profile corruption cases as the �sharks� seem to have escaped into the oceans with immunity and impunity.


Abdullah should also respond to Mahathir�s revelation of a Cabinet Minister who should have been prosecuted for corruption but who had been allowed to go free after Mahathir had stepped down as Prime Minister in October 2003.


Abdullah should also fully  honour his undertaking to tender out all the construction projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.


Recently, the Prime Minister announced that 880 projects worth RM15 billion  will be tendered under the first roll-out of the Ninth Malaysia Plan.


However, excluded from the tendering exercise are mammoth projects like the RM3 billion 24-km second Penang Bridge project, as the concessionaire to build, manage, operate and maintain the second bridge project has been given to UEM Group.


The contention that UEM Group has been given the concession as it is the concession holder of the Penang Bridge, and therefore has the expertise and experience in such projects, is dubious and most debatable especially as the Penang Bridge was not built by UEM Group.


The second Penang Bridge project should be open to public tender with all interested companies invited to submit proposals for its construction. 


As the concession holder for the Penang Bridge, UEM Group should have an advantage over all other bidders.  But most important of all, the Abdullah premiership must  demonstrate its real difference from its  predecessor on the important issue of integrity � and that no special favours would be shown to any individual or company whatever their political connections or associations, with a level playing field for all.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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