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In less than four years, Abdullah premiership runs danger to being compared unfavourably with the 22-year Mahathir administration on the key planks of upholding integrity and fighting corruption

Speech at DAP Pandamaran 50th Merdeka Anniversary Dinner
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Klang, Monday): When Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became Prime Minister in October 2003, he promised many things to the people of Malaysia, asking the people to �work with him and not work for him� � towards the objective of  a clean, incorruptible, efficient, trustworthy, democratic, just, people-oriented administration which is prepared to hear the truth from the citizenry.


In less than four years, Abdullah�s report card on his many pledges is quite a blank. Even more serious, it runs danger of being compared unfavourably with the 22-year Mahathir administration even on the key planks of upholding integrity and fighting corruption.


I will give three examples.


(1) For the past ten days, the country has been revolted by the exposes of the 2006 Auditor-General�s Report about the pervasive corruption, criminal breach of trust and mismanagement of public funds running into tens of millions, hundreds of millions and even billions of ringgit.


I remember that in the early years of the Mahathir premiership, there was a similar public revulsion when the Report of the then Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin exposed the notorious �Instant Mee� scandal, where the Defence Ministry paid RM4.90 per packet when the average market price was only 14sen a packet.


A quarter of a century later, nothing seemed to have changed � things have in fact got worse. The �Instant Mee� scandal was a rip-off of taxpayers� monies with the government paying some 350 per cent of the market price, but what we have in the 2006 Auditor-General�s Report is a rip-off by over 5,000 per cent in the case of the Youth and Culture Ministry paying RM5,700 for a car jack worth RM50!


(2) The Mahathir premiership started off with the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal, which the former Prime Minister had admitted at the time was a �heinous crime without criminals�.


The Abdullah premiership is starting off with a bigger scandal and a greater �heinous crime without criminals� � the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Port (PKFZ) bailout scandal.


The government was promised that it would not have to cough up a single ringgit of public funds for the PKFZ project, as it was feasible, self-financing and in expert hands. But now, with RM4 billion now the drain, taxpayers are now required to bailout the project to the tune of RM4.6 billion � but without any accountability, transparency or responsibility!


(3) The 22-year Mahathir administration ended with Malaysia being ranked No.37 on the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in 2003. 


Although Abdullah promised in the National Integrity Plan which he launched in May 2004 to improve Malaysia�s TI CPI ranking to No.30th position in 2008, the opposite has happened. 


In three years, Malaysia�s TI CPI ranking has plunged to No.44 in 2006, and there was not a single Barisan Nasional MP who dared to murmur dissent when I predicted at the recent meeting of Parliament that Malaysia�s TI CPI for 2007 would drop further, nearer to the 50th placing on the occasion of our 50th Merdeka anniversary.


Can Abdullah halt the slide in Malaysia�s TI CPI ranking, check the rot of rampant corruption in the system and begin to �walk the talk� of his pledges when he became the Prime Minister?


Abdullah won an unprecedented landslide victory in the 2004 general election winning 91 per cent of the parliamentary seats on his promise to be different from Mahathir, especially in upholding integrity and fighting corruption. Will the verdict of the Abdullah premiership be: �He promised to be different from his predecessor. But his administration was worse�?


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

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