Call for AES to fight “grand corruption” in Malaysia by making unusual and extraordinary wealth an automatic corruption offence

Since Datuk Seri Najib Razak became Prime Minister nearly 44 months ago, one of his constant themes is that “the era that the government knows best is over”.

This is however one of his most broken pledges and the most recent example of this violation is the Barisan Nasional government’s stubborn determination to implement the AES (Automatic Enforcement System) for traffic offences, despite the loud, unmistakable and growing demand by the Malaysian public for the suspension of the AES implementation until there is a proper study and the fullest public consultation preparation, which is reinforced by the decision of the four Pakatan Rakyat state governments of Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan to suspend the AES implementation in their respective states.

There is however one AES which should be introduced and implemented immediately – and this is to fight and eradicate “grand corruption” by top political and government leaders by making unusual and extraordinary wealth an automatic corruption offence!

There can be no doubt that one of the biggest failures of the Najib premiership, whether his Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and National Key Result Areas (NKRAs), is the battle against corruption.

This is why Malaysia under Najib is even more corrupt than under previous Prime Ministers as reflected in Malaysia’s worst ranking and score in the 2011 Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) when compared to all the TI CPIs of the past 17 years.

Malaysia was ranked No. 23 in 1995 and had the best score of 5.32 in 1996, but in the TI CPI, we fell to No. 60 will the worst score of 4.3 while other countries whether in ASEAN, the Asia-Pacific or the OIC countries had been improving by leaps and bounds in their anti-corruption campaigns.

If Najib is serious about giving priority to the battle against corruption, he should introduce and implement the AES to fight “grand corruption” by making unusual and extraordinary wealth an automatic corruption offence, as is to be found in Hong Kong and other countries serious about fighting corruption in high places.

Malaysians have recently been reminded that despite all the boasts of GTP and NKRA giving priority to fight corruption, and the increased funding, staffing and additional powers for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), there is simply no political will to combat corruption, particularly “grand corruption” involving people in high places in government.

There is for instance widespread public incredulity at the clumsy manner of the Najib government to cover up the scandal of the RM40 million “donation to Sabah UMNO” trafficked or laundered into the country from Hong Kong by Sabah timber trader Michael Chia four years ago in August 2008.

There is even greater incredulity when the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who publicly cleared the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Aman and Michael Chia of any offence of corruption over the RM40 million scandal, went on to proclaim that there was nothing wrong with his son being provided with a a luxurious Hummer SUV, which retails at over RM459,000, by Chia, showing utter contempt for serious conflict-of-interest issues.

Recently, the Swiss-based NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) issued a ground-breaking and explosive report which estimated the assets of Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud’s family at US$21 billion (RM64 billion), with the wealth of Taib himself put at a whopping US$15 billion (RM46 billion) but there has been no response or action from the MACC to the BMF expose of Taib Mahmud’s unusual and extraordinary wealth in his three decades as Sarawak Chief Minister.

If there is a AES making unusual and extraordinary wealth an automatic corruption offence, there would have been immediate anti-corruption actions in both these Sabah and Sarawak cases, and Malaysia would have embarked on the road to clean and good governance where there is zero tolerance for corruption with people in positions of power and authority instilled with “a natural abhorrence to corruption”.

Is Najib prepared to introduce the AES in fighting corruption by introducing legislation to make it an automatic corruption offence for any public officer to have unusual or extraordinary wealth, as maintaining a standard of living or in control of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate and incommensurate with his official emolument, unless there is satisfactory explanation for such unusual and extraordinary wealth?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur