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Time to throw the National Integrity Plan
into the garbage bin when a Cabinet Minister can feel quite proud about the
7-point plunge from 37th to 44th position in the past three years in
Malaysia’s ranking of Transparency International Corruption Perception Index
when the target is at least 30th position next year
(Parliament, Tuesday) : It is time to throw the National Integrity Plan into the garbage bin when a Cabinet Minister can feel quite proud about the 7-point plunge from 37th to 44th position in the past three years in Malaysia’s ranking of Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) when the target is at least 30th position next year.
When Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the fifth Prime Minister on Oct. 31, 2003, anti-corruption was one of the buzz words he used to differentiate his administration from the 22-year Tun Dr. Mahathir premiership and to create the “feel good” euphoria in the country which allowed him to romp home with the unprecedented general election victory in March 2004 winning 91 per cent parliamentary seats – a feat which had escaped the four previous Prime Ministers.
In April 2004, Abdullah launched the National Integrity Plan as the centerpiece of his anti-corruption and reform government, with the clear and specific five-year objective to ensure that Malaysia’s ranking on the TI CPI will be improved from 37th in 2003 to at least 30th position in 2008.
In the past three years, the Abdullah administration had scored very high in anti-corruption rhetoric (with Abdullah described as a “modern-day Justice Bao to bring out the votes for the Barisan Nasional in the 2004 general election) but failed miserably in actual performance, as reflected by the TI CPI with Malaysia dropping from 37th position in 2003 to 39th in 2004 and 2005 and plunging further to 44th position in 2006.
At the rate in the past three years, the National Integrity Plan is completely off-target, with Malaysia not only failing to achieve any improvement but likely to register the worst-ever TI CPI ranking at the end of the five-year National Integrity Plan – hopefully not in the second half-century bracket!
But what must have galled Malaysians is the shocking complacency of the Abdullah Cabinet at the dismal failure of its anti-corruption record to the extent that the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok could feel quite proud about the lowest-ever ranking of Malaysia on the TI CPI, saying that the 44th TI CPI ranking “is not too bad” and that “We are not in denial”.
Bernard said this yesterday at the World Ethics and Transparency Forum in Kuala Lumpur .
This is a classic case of a person suffering the denial syndrome while proclaiming publicly that one is not in denial, as his admission that “there are certain obstacles that we need to face” did not help in any way to dispel the image of a Cabinet of complacency, mediocrity and low standards, fitting the “half-past six Cabinet’ stricture of Tun Dr. Mahathir.
In the past three years, Abdullah has failed to make anti-corruption as one of the distinguishing characteristics from the previous administration. In fact, the consensus of the majority of Malaysians is that corruption has got worse in the past three years while former premier Tun Dr. Mahathir has emerged as a vocal critic of the corruption and abuses of power of the Abdullah administration – saying as far back as May 2005 that corruption has surfaced above the table.
The Cabinet tomorrow should take a policy decision as to whether it is going to abandon the National Integrity, or its specific five-year target of achieving for Malaysia at least the 30th ranking on the TI CPI.
Bernard is the chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity. Was he speaking on behalf of the Parliamentary Select Committee when he said that the 7-point plunge of Malaysia’s TI CPI in the past three years to 44th placing “is not too bad”.
As a member of the Select Committee, I will be asking for an early meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity to dissociate itself from such a shocking statement and judgment.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman