Combat graft with greater urgency

The MACC Advisory Board, in one of its rare public announcements, has advised the Government to give a copy of the Asset Declaration that is now made by members of the Federal Administration, including Cabinet Ministers, to the Prime Minister.

Furthermore, the MACC has suggested that the Asset Declaration should include the assets of their spouses and children.

MACC chairman Puan Sri Zaitun Zawiyah Puteh and the board members must be congratulated for this initiative.

However, this useful MACC proposal can be improved on considerably.

First, the Asset Declaration should also include liabilities, as liabilities can also be accumulated through corrupt practices.

Second, merely sending copies of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities to the MACC just to be “kept” will be of little significance.

The MACC must be made responsible to study and monitor major changes in the declaration and to independently investigate any suspicious change in assets and liabilities of members of the administration.

Third, it would be more effective if an independent task force, as proposed by Chief Justice Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria, instead of the MACC itself, could be appointed to study the Asset Declarations.

Better still, why not get the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, which has Opposition members, or a Judicial Commission, to review and require the MACC to investigate unusual changes in the Declaration of Assets/Liabilities?

Fourth, the MACC Advisory Board should insist that all members of state legislative assemblies and local authority councils, also be subject to the same requirements of scrutiny of their assets and liabilities.

Fifth, the MACC Board should recommend that tighter controls be imposed on political parties in the forthcoming general election.

Money politics is the mother of corruption and yet so little has been done to reduce grand corruption in this field. Unless the MACC board comes out strongly against money politics, all its initiatives to fight corruption could come to nought.

The public perception will then be that there is insufficient political will on all sides to seriously stamp out corruption. Then, the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index will continue to deteriorate.

This will consequentially cause great harm to public and investor confidence in the future outlook of our nation.

We must therefore firmly resolve and act with stronger determination, to combat the cancer of corruption in our country with greater urgency before it is too late.

Article published in The Star.

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