Challenge to ACA to prove that
it is not a “toothless tiger” and disclose how many persons had been
arrested and prosecuted for corruption and criminal breach of trust from
previous Auditor-General’s Reports
by Lim Kit Siang
In China, a senior official at
the Agricultural Bank of China was executed for corruption following years
of ordering suppliers to pay him kickbacks. Wen Mengjie, 50, former head
of information technology at one of the bank's Beijing branches, was
executed Tuesday for embezzling and taking bribes worth 15 million yuan
In the Philippinnes, former president Joseph Estrada was sentenced to jail
in prison after he was found guilty of massive corruption and plundering
the country of tens of millions of dollars in tax kickbacks and bribes.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced he would resign after being
dogged by a string of damaging scandals that hampered his reform agenda.
What do we have in Malaysia? Another year of shocking revelations of
corruption, criminal breach of trust, overspending and mismanagement of
funds by the Auditor-General, Tan Sri Amrin Buang – with the apt headline
of the the New Straits Times yesterday “Same old story year in year out”
– while the culture of impunity reigns on without anyone in high office
having to bear responsibility for corruption and abuse of power.
This year the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has taken a more proactive
publicity stance, declaring that it is scrutinizing the Auditor-General’s
Report 2006 on spending by the federal and state governments to see if any
of the transactions of projects involved corruption.
ACA director-general Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan said on Tuesday that if there
is any hint of corruption, the ACA will haul up the officials concerned,
including ministers, for questioning.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who
was also present, said the Prime Minister had instructed all the ministers
to look into the AG’s report seriously and to correct whatever that was
wrong, and if there were elements of abuse of power and corrupt practice,
there was nothing to stop the ACA from investigating and taking action.
These were all empty words utterly lacking in credibility as corruption
has worsened in the past four years, as reflected by national and
international perceptions, whether by Malaysians (including the former
Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad) or by international
organizations like the Transparency International in its annual Corruption
Public confidence in the ACA in its independence, capability,
professionalism and integrity to fight corruption and to bring the corrupt
to book is at an all-time low in the four-year premiership of Datuk Seri
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, which was why even the officially-endorsed National
Integrity Convention held a day before the 2008 Budget presentation last
week adopted a resolution unanimously calling for the Anti-Corruption
Agency to be made an independent body.
In my speech during the budget debate in Parliament on Monday, I noted a
conspicuous omission in the 2008 Budget speech – the total absence of any
reference to the scourge of corruption which added to the cost of doing
business in Malaysia and a major obstacle to economic efficiency although
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had pledged when he became Prime Minister
in October 2003 that eradicating corruption would be his top priority.
In the exchange in Parliament with Barisan Nasional MPs, who claimed that
the government was serious in wanting to eradicate corruption, none of
them dared to stand up to contradict my prediction despite repeated
challenge that Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International
Corruption Perception Index 2007, which is expected to be released in a
month’s time, is likely to be even worse than the lowest ranking of No. 44
last year and would be approaching No. 50 on the occasion of the nation’s
50th Merdeka anniversary!
When I read that the corrupt banker who was executed in China, Wen Mengjie,
had bought three houses in Beijing with the bribes he received, I was
reminded of what the former Inspector-General of Police, Tun Hanif Omar
had written in his Sunday Star column, that he had been informed by a
high-level ACA officer when he was deputy chairman of the Royal Police
Commission that 40% of senior police officers could be arrested for
corruption without further investigations strictly on the basis of their
It is most deplorable that Barisan Nasional MPs were more interested in
“shooting the messenger” instead of focusing on the message when I
referred to Hanif’s revelation in Parliament on Monday – with the most
irresponsible BN MPs launching a most disgraceful personal attack on Hanif.
I challenge the ACA to prove that it is not a “toothless tiger” and call
on the ACA director-general to disclose how many persons had been arrested
and prosecuted for corruption and criminal breach of trust from previous
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman