Challenge to make Sabah a model of corruption-free administration instead of topping the list among the most corrupt administrations in Malaysia

Recently, anti-corruption is in the news.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had finally acted against illegal logging activity in Sarawak, with the arrest of a senior police officer who is head of a police district headquarters in the State and believed to have received RM16,000 in bribes.

MACC has estimated some RM100 million are lost as a result of illegal logging activity in Sarawak, which is a puny figure compared to the tens of billions of ringgit garnered by corruption every year.

Last month, eight customs officers were charged in Kuala Lumpur with 28 separate counts of receiving bribery involving a total sum of RM34,400 at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court.

These anti-corruption actions made quite a splash in the local media simply because there had been so little real anti-corruption news as distinct from propaganda to report for the past few years, even thought those arrested recently belong to the ‘flies” category in China’s anti-corruption campaign against “tigers and flies”.

Malaysians are entitled to ask many questions about the poor record of anti-corruption efforts, which is reflected by Malaysia’s dismal Transparency International Corruption Perception Index every year, and the first question is: Why the MACC is catching “flies”, where are the “tigers”? Or to use Malaysian lingo, where are the “sharks”, as the MACC and its predecessor the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) had not been able to send a single “shark” behind bars for the past 33 years under three Prime Ministers – Najib, Abdullah and Mahathir – when both jails in Indonesia and China are full of “shark” or “tigers and flies”!

Indonesia recently made world headlines about its seriousness and commitment to fight corruption when its new President, Joko Widowo tasked Indonesia’s anti-graft agency, the Corruption Eradication Commission KPK) with the assignment of assessing and clearing candidates for his Cabinet.

Jokowo, who was inaugurated President on Monday (Oct. 20), dropped eight of his candidates for the Cabinet after the KPK objected to their appointment. Jokowo has submitted new names to KPK to replace the eight as he wants good and clean Ministers who can pass the screening by the Corruption Eradication Commission.

Will the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, follow Jokowi’s example and submit new Cabinet appointments to the MACC for clearance and drop those who fail to secure the MACC clearance?

Up to now, all that is required in Malaysia is for the Cabinet Ministers to submit declaration of assets to the Prime Minister – which is totally unsatisfactory and unacceptable in a new era of good governance whether in Malaysia or the world.

The second question Malaysians, and in particular Sabahans, are entitled to know is why the MACC is so quiet, inactive and impotent in Sabah, when Sabah tops the country as an administration which has one of the worst corruption problems.

I want to issue a challenge to the MACC, the Prime Minister and the Sabah Chief Minister whether they are prepared to make Sabah a model of corruption-free administration instead of topping the list of among the most corrupt administrations in Malaysia.

Can the MACC explain why it is so quiet, inactive, impotent and lacking in results in the battle against corruption in Sabah?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah