Sunday, 20 December 2009

Good Luck MACC

PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission can now interrogate witnesses beyond office haurs, after the court of apeal overturned a High Court decision made last month..(NST Friday December 18,2009)

And this is another story about MACC

NOV 22 — About this time each year when Transparency International in Berlin releases its Corruption Perceptions Index, there are many in high places chewing their sticky, dirty fingers while keeping them crossed, hoping against hope, that the world would be kinder and Malaysia’s score on the corruption league table would come out more favourably than last year’s and all the previous years since the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index was first released in 1995. The prayers of the corrupt in government and politics have been ignored again. The predictability of it all is uncanny. The question is why are we continually perceived as corrupt, and are the perceptions justified?

The ambivalence of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to corruption during his 22-year administration was never in dispute. In a perverse sort of way, he was charmingly honest and did not try to pretend that he was against corrupt practices. He was a great “in the national interest man” who saw corruption not in monochrome, but in glorious Technicolor which could even be made to look extremely attractive seen through his 20/20 Vision however sordid it is in reality.

I am sure the great visionary of all that is tallest, longest and biggest did not lose any sleep over the many shady deals involving Bank Negara and the Employees Provident Fund that, but for the grace of God and the beneficence of the milch cow that is Petronas, would have rendered us insolvent and a hostage of the IMF. He made no promises to fight corruption, and we did not expect anything from him in this respect. He was, by my definition, a corrupt man.
His successor, the one-term wonder, affectionately known as Pak Lah of the “work with me and not for me” fame, was made from a different mould. A perfectly decent human being, he possessed impressive religious and moral credentials. When he declared that his top priority was to take the war against corruption into enemy territory, the country rejoiced, but it was to be short lived. A lot of white washing here and there, and a little tinkering around the edges did nothing to reduce corruption. If anything, the consensus was that corruption during Pak Lah’s watch was worse than when Mahathir held sway over us.

As Pak Lah himself admitted without saying so in so many words, there were other more pressing matters requiring his attention that it was only in the twilight of his stewardship that he woke up and realised that there was a little promise he had made that he had to fulfil. So in great haste, all he managed to do, bless the poor man, was to leave behind a less than useless legacy in the shape of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission which on present showing is useful neither to man nor beast. And that is being charitable.

The first anti-corruption public relations exercise was the setting up of the National Institute of Integrity Malaysia which, while trying its best to justify its existence, has achieved next to nothing because it is seen as being unable to focus on its mission. Institutions of themselves are not as important as what their people do inside their often magnificent buildings. Malaysia’s dismal failure to curb corruption as effectively as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, the cleanest in this region, has everything to do with the leadership in government, the Attorney-General’s chambers, the police and the MACC. It all comes down to people in the end. Mere institutions without people of honour and integrity to lead them do not amount to anything. Remember that saying about how you can fool some people some of the time, but not all people all of the time. It is a lesson that seems to have escaped our leadership.

With one scam after another swirling around their ankles on a daily basis, our leaders, no matter what tricks they try to come up with, have all but lost their high moral ground from which to sermonise on the evils of corruption. The country is mired in corruption and every level of the service has been touched by corruption, defined as the “abuse of entrusted power for personal gain”, and official corruption in our country is escalating to enormous heights because there is no political will to begin with. The thing to remember about the Corruption Perceptions Index is that it reflects the views of the expatriate business community, resident in our country. They are the people who are sought to respond to questionnaires about corruption in our country. And they are not blind to what is going on in their dealings with the government. True, many have no direct experience of being subjected to official extortion, but they exchange stories which are the basis of their perceptions.

There were several countries that were written off as chronically and systemically corrupt and have succeeded remarkably in breaking out of the vicious cycle of corruption. Corruption is not part of our culture and yet we have allowed it to become our way of life. We are the product of our environment and the government has a responsibility for creating an environment that makes corruption a “high risk, low return business.” But to do that the Prime Minister must lead by example and must confront corruption in all its manifestation, no matter who commits it. A real challenge for Najib if he can find some time to drop his 1 Malaysia and look at corruption in the face.

I am not at all sanguine at all about our future as a nation if, by default, we look the other way when disaster is heading straight at us. We will slide further and will have for company those countries that we used to look down upon because we were cleaner. Yes, there was a time, when Tunku Abdul Rahman was prime minister, when corruption only happened in other countries and when ministers and senior Malayan Civil Service officers lived well, well within their means.

Najib must shake off all traces of corruption within our system of governance if Malaysia is to reappear on the competitiveness radar screen of countries that foreign investors feel confident to park their money. Is Datuk Seri Najib Razak up to the challenge?sumber - sinchew

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