Malaysia

No ‘radical’ moves needed in graft fight, just political will

By ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH
July 11, 2013

The government does not have to do much to be "radical" in its approach and solutions to reduce corruption in the country, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said in a statement today.

He said it only has to do some simple things like showing the political will to ensure open, competitive and transparent tenders for mega-privatisation contracts, public declaration of assets by ministers, ensuring the effectiveness of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), setting up the IPCMC and promoting checks and balances within the parliamentary system.

"The implementation of these measures will go a long way towards redeeming the declining corruption barometer in the country," he added in his statement.

The DAP national publicity secretary said this in response to recent proposed changes announced yesterday by Pemandu's anti-corruption NKRA director Ravindran Devagunam.

He said while he welcomed Ravindran's proposals, he felt it was not significant enough. "The proposals clearly do not go far enough to demonstrate an impact against corruption," Pua said.

"While Penang state executive councillors are already publicly declaring their assets, the policy for ministers to disclose assets privately to the MACC falls far short of creating a ripple."

Pua's comments come after the results of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) report recently, which showed that the people's perception of the government's effectiveness in combatting corruption has plunged significantly from 49 per cent previously in 2011 to a shocking low of 31 per cent.

Following that, Ravindran acknowledged that the government had not done enough to battle corruption and that "radical reforms" were needed to strive for improvement across the social, political and business arenas.

"The survey clearly shows that what we have done is not enough," he admitted, while suggesting that new measures be put in place to curb corruption.

Pemandu has suggested that the Auditor-General's Performance Audit Report be tabled at every Parliament sitting instead of just once a year, "to increase transparency and accountability by ministries".

"Ministers are currently required to declare their assets to the prime minister as well as to the MACC," Ravindran was reported as saying.

Pua, however, took a swipe at the MACC, saying that the agency was hardly a solution as it had become part of the problem.

"Hence until such a time when MACC is able to show its teeth and prove its worth, such assets disclosures to MACC will be viewed with disdain."

He also questioned the government which he claimed had not been able to resolve issues and bring culprits to justice, which have been highlighted in the AG's report.

"If this is the case, how would increased frequency of the report improve the government's commitment to fight corruption?" Pua asked.

Pua was scathing as he made a reference to Ravindran's claim that the appointment of Datuk Paul Low, who is Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of good governance and integrity, was a manifestation of the PM's commitment in fighting corruption.

"Such an endorsement for Datuk Paul Low in itself will extinguish any flickering hopes Malaysians have for real transformation," he said, calling Low an "apologist" for the Najib administration.

Low, in response to the GCB report, had said that "corruption is a global menace and not unique to Malaysia". - July 11, 2013.