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Will there be any Barisan Nasional leader who would dare to raise at the Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting tomorrow the hottest topic in the country – the three-year failure of the Abdullah premiership to deliver its top agenda to fight corruption?
(Ipoh, Sunday) : The Barisan Nasional supreme council will meet in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow where party component leaders are expected to assess their preparations for the next general election.
All the heads of the 14 component parties were informed last week to attend the meeting but they were not given any indication of its agenda.
Will there be any Barisan Nasional leader who would dare to raise at the Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting tomorrow the hottest topic in the country –the Prime Minister’s three-year failure to deliver his top agenda to fight corruption and how to restore public confidence that the Abdullah premiership had not abandoned its anti-corruption pledge?
At his first Cabinet meeting as Prime Minister on 5th November 2003, Abdullah directed Ministers to set up a task force in their ministries to tighten procedures and reduce bureaucracy in efforts to fight corruption. Nothing has been heard of these Ministerial task forces.
At the post-Cabinet press conference, Abdullah even spoke of his hope to achieve “zero corruption” but admitted that it was going to be difficult.
Apart from the run-up to the March 2004 general election campaign, Abdullah’s focus on his priority to fight corruption had increasingly lessened with the passage of time and the terms “zero corruption” or “zero tolerance for corruption” have disappeared from his vocabulary.
Will there be any top Barisan Nasional leader who would dare to tell Abdullah that after more than 40 months since he became Prime Minister, corruption in Malaysia has got worse instead of better – and that this is from the feedback from the people and not just from Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which fell seven places from 37th to 44th ranking from 2003 to 2006 or the view of the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who said that corruption had “surfaced above the table”.
One of Abdullah’s first promises as Prime Minister was to make the Anti-Corruption Agency “strong” under his leadership, vowing to make the ACA work faster and harder – but the ACA is today at its lowest ebb in public esteem, credibility and integrity in its 40-year-history, with the ACA director-general himself accused of serious corruption by a former top ACA official!
Will there be any top Barisan Nasional leader who would dare to bring to the notice of the Prime Minister at the BN Supreme Council meeting that it is a total mockery of his earlier pledge of zero tolerance for corruption to continue to have the ridiculous and untenable situation where the ACA chief is investigated by the police for corruption while the police and the Internal Security Deputy Minister, Datuk Johari Baharom are investigated by the ACA for corruption!
Who would believe that justice would be done in such a “I scratch your back, you scratch my back” scenario?
In the past four decades, the ACA could at least strike fear among lowly government servants though not the well-connected, high and mighty – but today, the ACA is regarded as a object of ridicule by all and sundry when they see the ACA director-general virtually on-the-run because of serious corruption allegations made against him.
On Friday, Abdullah said that “it’s difficult to get rid of (negative) perception…you can’t do that in just a day, even a year” when referring to the inaugural Malaysian Transparency Perception Survey 2007 of Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) that the five government agencies with perceived lowest integrity and transparency (or deemed most corrupt) among the public are the police (56 per cent), Road Transport Department (25 per cent), Customs and Excise (19 per cent), Public Works (7 per cent) and Land Office (6 per cent).
Abdullah should know that we are not talking about “a day, even a year” but over four years! After 40 months, there should be measurable improvement in public perception about integrity of the public service, but the reverse is unfortunately the case.
Abdullah himself realizes the importance of such measurable improvement of public perceptions about government integrity, which was why he announced in May 2004 the National Integrity Plan with the five-year objective to achieve for Malaysia at least a ranking of No. 30 next year in the TI CPI 2008 from No. 37 in 2003.
Instead of improving our TI CPI ranking, Malaysia’s placing had deteriorated and is now at No. 44 – and likely to plunge further with the recent corruption scandals involving the ACA director-general and Deputy Internal Security Minister and the equally scandalous manner of dealing with them – with both allowed to continue in their office when they should be asked to go on leave pending independent investigations.
If the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meeting tomorrow dare not even touch on the greatest crisis of confidence facing ACA in 40 years and the greatest crisis of integrity facing the country in 50 years, and unable to come out with a new resolve and action plan to declare an all-out war against corruption, then the Barisan Nasional leaders will be proving how out of touch they are from the deepest hopes and aspirations of the people.
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