Do we have an Opposition Leader who is afraid to raise the issue of corruption in Parliament?

Yesterday, I said the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Hamzah Zainudin made two mistakes last Tuesday — firstly, in failing to provide check and balance during half-hour Prime Ministerial question time and secondly, in failing to pass the Yang di Pertuan Agong’s test in the Royal Address Motion to ensure political stability for the next five years to allow the country to unite a very polarised plural nation, and to reset and return to the original nation-building principles to become a first-rate world-class nation.

Actually, Hamzah was also guilty of a third mistake — the critical omission in his maiden speech in Parliament on the 2022 Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2022.

Is this because his reference to the TI CPI 2022 will reflect on the failures of two “backdoor” governments of Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri?

Do we have an Opposition Leader who is afraid to raise the issue of corruption in Parliament?

The TI CPI 2022 is the best evidence that after six decades, Malaysia has regressed to become a second-rate mediocre country in danger of being lumped together with other failed and divided states in the world in the next few decades.

An Opposition serious about performing its task of providing effective check and balance to the the government-of-the-day would make the TI CPI 2022 one of the chief planks to demand a report and plan from the government to stop Malaysia’s decline in the TI CPI series.

The best attempt in the last three decades to check the decline of anti-corruption efforts was in the 22-month Pakatan Harapan government before it was toppled by the Sheraton Move political conspiracy which brought in two illegitimate “backdoor” governments.

Malaysia’s TI CPI 2019 was the best anti-corruption efforts in 25 years since Transparency International started its annual Corruption Perception Index series in 1995, for in 2019 Malaysia achieved a score of 53 out of 100 marks with a ranking of 51 out of 180 countries as compared with Malaysia’s TI CPI 2017 when it had a score of 47 out of 100 with a rank of 62 out of 180 countries.

The two “backdoor” governments of Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri could not continue with the anti-corruption efforts of the Pakatan Harapan government to achieve better results than the 1995 TI CPI but were responsible for another plunge in TI CPI to the lowest score in a decade, i.e. 47 out of 100 marks, and 62nd ranking out of 180 countries.

We have lost out not only to the Top 10 countries led by Denmark and which includes Singapore, we have also lost out to five countries in the first annual TI CPI 1995 list (Taiwan, South Korea, Spain, Italy, and Greece). Furthermore, we have also lost out to countries like Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Mauritius, and Vanuatu, and drew with Jordan.

Unless we buck up, we will be overtaken by Armenia, China, Cuba, Bahrain, Jamaica, Oman, Benin, Bulgaria, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Hungary, Kuwait, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, Kosovo, Guyana, India, Maldives, Suriname, and Tunisia by the end of the decade.

When the TI started its annual CPI series in 1995, we were well ahead of China, India and Indonesia, which have steadily caught up with Malaysia in the last 27 years. Are we going to lose out to China and India before the end of this decade and to lose out to Indonesia in the next decade?

In the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) countries, we have lost out to United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, and we stand to lose out to more OIC countries if we continue in the trajectory of decline in the TI CPI series.

This is why the current seven-week Parliamentary meeting should be the most important Parliamentary meeting in Malaysian history in initiating institutional reforms for Malaysia to achieve the twin goals of uniting the plural society in Malaysia and to restore Malaysia as a first-rate world-class nation.

Parliament should adopt a Charter of Public Integrity to propel Malaysia to be one of the top countries in the world in public integrity and on the anti-corruption front where the happiness of Malaysians should be the topmost government priority and not that of cronies and the political class as reflected in the most dismal report of TI CPI 2022.

If Hamzah is afraid to lead the anti-corruption campaign in Parliament, then Malaysia needs a new Parliamentary Opposition Leader.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Veteran