Laws against misconduct and wastage are most welcome

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption proposal, to introduce a new misconduct in public office act, will be most welcome by the Malaysian public. Even Cupacs vice-president Zainal Ismail has promptly supported it.

For too long the rakyat have suffered from large wastages of government taxes and public funds, that could have been better used to help the poor and under privileged, as revealed by the many Auditor General’s reports

But are ministers exempted from this new law? To be fair it should also cover cabinet ministers since they make the decisions on major public expenditures. They are elected by the people and should be more accountable to the rakyat.

Cuepacs has also insisted that action should be taken at all levels of the public service? I would have thought that this is what is already happening. But maybe Cuepacs has reason to believe that the bosses would be spared? That would be most unfortunate. No one should be above the law and there should not be double standards in the administration of the rule of law.

Cuepacs also urged the government to retire or sack inefficient civil servants, instead of keeping them idle for months on end, in “cold storage”. Cuepacs is right. If just the worst one% of the 1.4 million civil servants are given volunteer retirement terms or dismissed for poor conduct and bad performance, the majority of the civil servants, who are dedicated, will be encouraged and will serve the government and all Malaysians much better. The government will also then be able to save a great deal, cut the budget deficit and stimulate more productivity.

Sometimes negligence can be deliberately perpetuated, according to political expediencies, as in the case of the registration of identity cards and passports, and in so many other ways. That is a kind of abuse of power that can be regarded as political or financial corruption too?

Tan Sri Hadenan Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the MACC operations review panel and a former very senior colleague in the civil service, is fully aware of how so called “negligence and stupidity”, can be used by some, as an excuse not to take action against errant civil servants.

He is thus right in stressing that Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009, is silent on negligence or the dereliction of duties. Negligence and misconduct are also as irresponsible, as corrupt practices. So corruption can be conveniently and deliberately confused with negligence. This way, corrupt officials can be let off the hook?

Hopefully, the cabinet will approve the proposed new act. It is now expected that the act will be tabled in Parliament soon, based on all the best international practices. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We should also minimise any teething problems that could plague the introduction of the GST?

Once we have this new act, we can then fight both corruption and wastage of public funds much more effectively.

Unless the Government takes tough action to transform the public service and the private sector, we could deteriorate in our overall governance, in civil service conduct and in the wastage of public funds. That is how many countries have deteriorated into failed states, which of course our leaders will fight hard to avoid.

We need to also learn from the trial of former Thai prime minister, Yingluck. Thus we can try to ensure that some of our negligent, corrupt and indifferent Ministers and Officials and some of our unscrupulous Malaysian businessmen, will actually run out of luck, to bring about a better.

Article published in The Star and The Malaysian Insider.

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