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Malaysia will become an
international laughing-stock if Abdullah’s anti-corruption campaign is
reduced to a P.R problem when the root cause is the lack of political will
to create a society with zero-tolerance for corruption
(Ipoh, Wednesday) : The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz gave a very novel explanation about the anti-corruption campaign of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – saying that the government had done a lot to fight corruption but such information was not properly channeled to the public.
Speaking at the World Ethics and Transparency Forum on Monday, Nazri said a public relations blitz to outline the national drive against corruption and the promotion of integrity is in the offing.
He said the government did not have a good public relations unit to counter criticisms that not enough was being done to stamp out corruption and improve integrity.
If Nazri is right, then the only problem of Abdullah’s anti-corruption campaign is one of P.R rather than one of lack of political will, but Nazri would belong to a very tiny number of people who would resort to such a novel way to wish away the grave problem of corruption in the country.
How will Nazri explain Malaysia’s plunge of seven places from 37th to 44th position in the last three years during the Abdullah premiership from 2003 to 2006 in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) when the five-year National Integrity Plan launched by Abdullah in April 2004 had targeted improvement to at least 30th position in 2008? Can this shocking plunge in Malaysia’s TI CPI to 44th position (when Malaysia was ranked No. 23 in 1995) be attributed to poor PR?
Is Nazri’s novel explanation the official position of the Cabinet, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) and the Institute of Integrity Malaysia (IIM) or is it just his personal view?
This is important for if it is the official view of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the various anti-corruption bodies, then there is nothing more that needs to be done than to engage an expensive PR firm to burnish Malaysia’s image on integrity and anti-corruption.
Malaysia will become an international laughing-stock if the government is serious in trying to reduce Abdullah’s anti-corruption campaign into a mere P.R problem when everybody knows that the the root cause is the lack of political will to create a society with zero-tolerance for corruption.
This is why the 18 “high-profile” corruption cases involving “big fishes” had been allowed to escape into the South China Sea although there was a lot of fanfare in the early months of the Abdullah premiership that they would be caught and be brought to justice to demonstrate the seriousness of the anti-corruption campaign of the new Prime Minister.
Early this month, the newly-appointed Perak ACA director Samsiah Abu Bakar opened fire against heads of government departments who had ignored corruption among staff.
She said that she would seek clarification from those who had not taken action against such staff.
She said she was shocked when she went through the records as there are some 21 cases dating back to 2001 which had not been attended to, including warnings and suspension of salary.
She said these are cases which could not be prosecuted in court due to a lack of evidence but there were elements of corruption involved. The ACA subsequently recommended departmental action against the staff concerned.
Samsiah made the statement some two weeks after it was revealed that the Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan had issued a directive to all heads of departments giving them six months to take disciplinary action against corrupt civil servants.
At a meeting of the Chief Secretary with all directors-general, ACA officials tabled a report on 585 civil servants allegedly on the take between 2002 and 2006.
However, due to lack of evidence, they could not be produced in court. ACA had recommended that disciplinary action, including demotion, transfer and salary freeze, be taken against those implicated in the cases.
Parliament expects a full report on the actions taken against the 585 civil servants (including the 21 cases referred to by Samsiah) for corrupt practices, though there was not enough evidence to sustain court actions.
In this connection, Parliament will also want to know the number of political leaders at both the national and state government leaders who had been investigated by the ACA and whom the ACA had been satisfied had been guilty of corruption but there was not enough evidence to produce them in court – and whether the ACA had recommended to the Prime Minister, Mentri Besar or Chief Minister concerned for action to be taken against them, and the number of such political leaders involved.