Will Najib apologise for Malaysia's poor record in fighting corruption under his watch as PM?

Today, December 9, is the International Anti-Corruption Day designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of corruption and the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in combating and preventing corruption.

However, although this is the 9th International Anti-Corruption Day since its first observance in 2004, the Malaysian Government had simply ignored it - which is a reflection of its lack of commitment and political will to combat corruption, in particular "grand corruption" of top political and government leaders.

The failure of the "reform" government of Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to observe the International Anti-Corruption Day this year is a great disappointment, as it was only ten days ago that Najib had apologised for "any oversight" of the UMNO/Barisan Nasional government in the past, couched in the most flowery of language, viz:

"Where on this earth is there no rain, which sea has no turbulence? Where on this earth are there people, or leaders, or companies or parties that have never stumbled or committed a mistake? As the leadership of the party and government, we put our palms together in apology for any oversight."

I want to ask Najib whether he would apologise for Malaysia's poor record in fighting corruption under his watch as Prime Minister, falling to the lowest rankings of Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for four consecutive years from 2009-2012 - a record worse than previous Prime Ministers?

This concerns his own "oversight" as Prime Minister in the past four years and not the "oversight" of the previous UMNO/BN Prime Ministers in the past five decades!

When the TI CPI was first introduced in 1995, Malaysia was ranked No. 23 out of 41 countries. I can still remember the condemnation by the then Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who accused it as part of the Western "white men" conspiracy to demonise Asian countries as the global anti-corruption NGO was headquartered in Berlin.

What is most ironic is that in the months before he stepped down as Prime Minister in October 2003, Mahathir was singing a different tune, suggesting that Malaysia must compare its public behaviour with Finland, which came out as the world's least corrupt and most ethical country in the TI CPI for three consecutive years at that time.

Giving final recognition to the TI CPI, Mahathir urged the country to aim "to be amongst the highest ranking countries" - which could only mean among the top least corrupt nations!

When Mahathir stepped down as Prime Minister, Malaysia's ranking in 2003 had dropped from 23rd in 1995 to 37th position!

In the five-year premiership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Malaysia's TI CPI plunged another ten places from 37th to 47th ranking in 2008 despite Abdullah's five-year National Integrity Plan to achieve at least 30th ranking in 2008.

But for the period when Najib took over as Prime Minister, Malaysia's plumbed to the lowest TI CPI rankings in all the four consecutive years, falling to 56th placing in 2009 and 2010, 60th in 2011 and 54th in 2012 - confirming that Malaysia under Najib is even more corrupt than under the two previous Prime Ministers, Mahathir and Abdullah.

If Najib is not prepared to apologise for the "oversight" and "failings" under his own premiership, who will believe that Najib is sincere and genuine about his "apology with palms together" for the "oversight" of past UMNO/BN governments?

With such an abysmal record on the anti-corruption front, despite giving it top priority in the government transformation programme (GTP) and NKRA, the International Anti-Corruption Day should have been observed by Najib with the announcement of new meaningful anti-corruption initiatives by the present UMNO/BN government.

But this is not the case, and the International Anti-Corruption Corruption Day continues to be ignored by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet - an eloquent statement that they are not serious in the war against worsening corruption in Malaysia apart from sloganeering and rhetorics.

The 66th UMNO General Assembly is not the first time that Najib had apologised for past UMNO/BN mistakes, but he had singularly failed to enumerate the past UMNO/BN mistakes which he was apologising for.

Let Najib identify and particularise these "oversights" which he is apologising for, whether for abuses of power, corruption, cronyism and lack of accountability; the destruction of the independence, impartiality, integrity and professionalism of major national institutions whether the civil service, the judiciary, police, election commission or anti-corruption agency; the worsening race and religious polarisation in the country or for the illegal and undemocratic power grab in Perak from Pakatan Rakyat in February 2009?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur