Country’s corrupt image not reality, says deputy minister
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — A deputy minister today brushed aside the public’s negative perception on the current state of political corruption in Malaysia, declaring that it did not mean the country was corrupt.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk VK Liew told Parliament today that the people’s perception did not necessarily translate to reality, claiming that it was coloured by other factors that were likely unclear and untrue.
He was responding during Question Time to a query by Fuziah Salleh (PKR-Kuantan) who had asked if the government was aware that, based on the Global Corruption Barometer Survey 2009 by Transparency International, Malaysians had a bad perception of political corruption in the country.
This, she pointed out, was despite the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s 2009 report that 15 members of political parties were presently facing legal charges in court.
“The survey results were based on the community’s perception towards corruption in political parties in their respective countries,” Liew said today.
“For your information, perception is not necessarily reality. Perception is often coloured by current facts that may not be clear or true,” he added.
On the other hand, Liew pointed out that the legal charges by MACC against 15 political party members were based on facts and the law.
“They were charged based on complaints received and information obtained during investigations,” he said.
Liew’s response, however, failed to appease Fuziah, who rose to tell the House that the deputy minister’s answer showed that the government was in denial over the state of corruption in the country.
“From your answer, you seem to claim that in reality, there is no corruption as it is merely a perception. I would like to state that perception is formed according to several facts and through experiences, interaction and contact.
“In the same survey, when Malaysians were queried whether they perceived that the government was effective in combating corruption, 67 per cent of Malaysians said that the government was ineffective, in comparison to Indonesia where 74 per cent said their government was effective and in Singapore, 96 per cent say their government is effective.
“So there seems to be a denial here,” she said.
Fuziah also challenged the government to practise asset disclosure, pointing out that this was done in Indonesia during its elections.
“Maybe with asset disclosure and if the prime minister and his Barisan Nasional leaders do not fear to do this.”
Liew then evaded Fuziah’s question and instead asked her about the public’s perception towards Pakatan Rakyat (PR), pointing to the just-concluded PKR polls which was said to be fraught with election irregularities.
“I agree with you that perception is based on experiences so what is the people’s perception of PR where recently the PKR polls was flooded with numerous complaints of cheating and so on,” he said.
He later accused Fuziah of only raising points in the corruption perception survey that “insulted” the BN government.
“If you look at the facts in the survey, there were other pointers that were taken into consideration. The perception of corruption in political parties was only one of the many organisations considered in the survey,” he said.
Liew stressed that the survey also revealed that out of six organisations (political parties, Parliament, business/private sector, media, public officials and judiciary), only four per cent perceived that Parliament was affected by corruption.
“But in Indonesia, the score for Parliament was 47 per cent.
“And in other countries like India, Thailand and South Korea, their perception of corruption affecting political parties is even higher than Malaysia’s, at 58 per cent, 54 per cent and 38 per cent. In Malaysia, it is only 42 per cent.
“It is just a game of perception... of how the people look at you and at us,” he said.
Liew added that the survey was based on information obtained from the public between February 15 and 18 last year, before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak took office and introduced his National Key Results Areas initiative.
“Under the NKRA, fighting corruption is one of the government’s main thrusts. But you failed to take all this into consideration. Please give accurate information to the House in the future,” he remonstrated.
Liew also claimed later that the courts’ failure to convict a person of corruption did not mean that MACC was not carrying out its duties well.
“When a politician is charged, he will be given the opportunity to employ a good lawyer to defend him in court.
“So if there is no conviction, it does not mean that MACC did not do its job... it just shows that the counsel is probably one of the best,” he said.
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