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Cabinet should set up Royal Commission of Inquiry into the �freedom for sale� corruption scandal to stop  the latest haemorrhage of public confidence in the political will and commitment of the Prime Minister to root out high-level corruption


Media Statement (2)    
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Monday) : The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi�s response today  to the recent spate of reports alleging  high-profile corruption in his administration is very weak, lackluster and most disappointing, reinforcing public exasperation at his lack of political will to �walk the talk� to root out corruption and lead an administration which has zero tolerance for corruption. 

Speaking at the monthly assembly of the Prime Minister�s Department, Abdullah gave the assurance that action will be taken against those involved in corruption, while those who do not indulge in such practices should have no fear. 


He said: "Of course no one wants corruption. Action must be taken. Those who are innocent need not worry."

He  pointed out that what was important was that investigations on allegations of corruption must be carried out in the most just manner.

He even said that generally 85 percent of the reports submitted pertaining to accusations of corrupt practices were unfounded.


Abdullah seems to be unaware that his administration which in a fortnight�s time will be marking the third anniversary of its unprecedented landslide 2004 general election victory on a platform of anti-corruption is facing a crisis of confidence, firstly, because of the failure to produce results in the anti-corruption front and secondly because of the recent spate of allegations of high-profile corruption, such as involving the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) Director-General, Datuk Seri Datuk Zulkipli Mat Noor and the latest involving Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharom - that the latter had received a bribe of over RM5 million for the release of three criminals who had been detained under the Emergency Ordinance.

This is not the time for Abdullah to trot out pedestrian and uninspiring  statements of �Have No Fear If You're Clean� to top political and government leadersbut to convince Malaysians, intending foreign investors  and the international community of his political will and commitment to combat corruption at all levels of society by ensuring that anti-corruption investigations into the recent spate of high-level corruption allegations would be conducted by an independent and fearless body which will command unchallenged national and international confidence.


For this reason, I call on the Cabinet on Wednesday to  set up a  Royal Commission of Inquiry into the �freedom for sale� corruption scandal to stop  the latest haemorrhage of public confidence in the political will and commitment of the Prime Minister to root out high-level corruption.


The Royal Commission of Inquiry, which should  comprise Malaysians of distinction with impeccable character and reputation, should have two specific terms of reference � firstly, to inquire into all allegations of corrupt practices and abuses of power in the administration of the �detention-without-trial� provisions, the detention and release of suspects under the Emergency Ordinance; and secondly, whether the Emergency Ordinance should be repealed to end gross and blatant abuses of discretionary powers of �life and death� over the personal liberties of Malaysians without benefit of any judicial review.


A Royal Commission of Inquiry into the RM5 million  �freedom for sale� allegation is indispensable as there is just no public confidence that the Police or the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) would be able to carry out an independent, untrammeled and satisfactory investigation.


Johari yesterday  stepped forward confirming that he is the one who is the target of the RM5 million �freedom for sale� allegations which had been posted on two websites, both on the free website,


He declared that he is innocent and had nothing to hide. However his further statement that he was ready to face any investigations is irrelevant as anyone in such a position would have no choice but to face the ensuing investigations.


What is a matter of concern is the �warfare� which seemed to have broken out between  on the one hand Johari -  who is the de facto Internal Security Minister on EO detentions as Abdullah as the Internal Security Minister has completely delegated such powers to Johari � and the Police and even the ACA on the other.


Johari told the Sun that he was puzzled  by the police and ACA reaction to the RM5 million ringgit �freedom for sale� allegations �made without basis or fact� - clearly blaming both agencies for initiating investigations instead of going after those responsible for the websites.


Johari complained: �People have posted all sorts of lies and claims against politicians and other government officials on the Internet. Even the prime minister has not been spared by these rumour-mongers.


�So instead of investigating rumours, the police should go after those who post such things on the Net or send out SMSes which tarnish and damage of those named.  Why are the police not doing that? I do not see them doing that.� 


IGP Musa is right when he said that �the integrity of the police force was at stake� and this is why an independent and impartial Royal Commission of Inquiry should be established and entrusted with the responsibility to probe into the million-ringgit �Freedom for sale � allegations, particularly in view of two factors:


  • the hostile attitude of the Johari, the de facto Internal Security Minister on EO matters, towards police investigations; 

  • rule of natural justice � that the police must not be seen to be exonerating itself of the serious corruption and abuse-of-power allegations in the detaining and freeing of suspects under the EO.


With the latest corruption allegations  reaching as high as the ACA Director-General himself, the ACA is also not the suitable or competent body enjoying public confidence to singly handle this responsibility. What the ACA should do is to put its entire machinery at the disposal of the Royal Commission of Inquiry probing into the �Freedom for Sale� scandal.


Two weeks ago, Musa made a shocking confession when he spoke on "Crime and Changing Social Values in the Malaysian Society" during a seminar at the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) in Kuala Lumpur � that the Police is afflicted by the �close-one-eye� syndrome.


Musa lamented that in the war against crime, the police are at times frustrated by some politicians who want the police to �keep one eye open and one eye closed�.


Musa should explain the seriousness of the problem of �interfering politicians� including Deputy Ministers and Ministers wanting the police to �close one eye open and one eye closed� undermining and frustrating the war against crime.



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

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