MACC chief deserves support

I have to give credit to our relatively new MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad for his courage and conviction to “rid graft in the country”.

His bold remarks to a media caucus recently was music to my ears as a former chairman of the MACC Panel on Prevention of Corruption, and I hope all parties – the Government, political leaders and the people – will back the MACC more substantively to fight corruption to the end.

This may be our last chance as corruption is now rife and because, as the chief commissioner said, “corruption is everywhere”. No MACC chief has been so frank and bold and we have to congratulate Zulkifli for his candour.

Let’s examine his major issues.

1. Zulkifli’s request to declare graft as the nation’s No. 1 enemy is right and proper and will be welcomed by all except the corrupt and would-be corrupt. This is his challenge to the Government. Will the Government accept this brave challenge? The Government should at least call corruption one of the biggest national enemies, along with racism and religious bigotry.

2. Dzulkifli stated clearly that by declaring corruption the No. 1 enemy, “There would be radical changes and the war would naturally extend to trafficking, illegal gambling and environmental issues and lax border security.” It is clearer now why drugs and arms smuggling is also prevalent. The situation is getting so bad it has prompted the MACC chief to declare that “It’s time to take this seriously.” Could this also mean that so far we have taken corruption lightly?

3. It is difficult to agree with Dzulkifli’s heavy hints that the MACC would go after the politicians only after the 14th General Election, however. Why should the corrupt enjoy a honeymoon in the meantime? Are they allowed to make hay while the sun shines and then get away with the loot? This would be grossly unfair to the rakyat and worsen any poor perception they have of the MACC and the Government as well. So why not go for them now so that the corrupt do not stand for election?

4. It is gratifying that Dzulkifli said he will go for those “who win votes the wrong way”. But the horses would have bolted out of the stable by then. So please, chief commissioner, at least warn those concerned personally not to stand for election before it is too late and we vote them in without knowing better. It may be difficult for the MACC to charge those in power after the election.

5. Dzulkifli is right about most Malaysians. We hate corruption but many dare not make a report because they see the culprits getting away and they fear reprisals. So please catch and prosecute at least one culprit every day rather than just one every week.

Furthermore, why do we need 1,000 MACC officers to play the role of creating awareness and prevention and another 1,000 to deal with “administration matters” out of the relatively small number of 2,900 officers?

Should this task not be done by the civil service under the Chief Secretary to the Government? Can’t religious groups and leaders and universities and schools be co-opted to run this campaign? The MACC could step up its campaign to invite and even reward the public for genuine information on corruption. This could be encouraged among the 1.6 million civil servants and the business community as well.

6. Dzulkifli’s proposal for “contesting candidates to undergo a background screening” for corruption is very welcome and fully supported by right-thinking Malaysians.

It is hoped that the Government will agree to this proposal for ALL candidates.

7. Dzulkifli’s statement that his “mission over the next three years is to create a society which has the strength or willpower to go against it (corruption)” was well said. We hope he will be blessed with determination, dedication and devotion to duty to serve the country to the best of his ability with the full support of his keen staff and, of course, the Government and rakyat.

I hope Dzulkifli will be allowed to serve his full term and even beyond in order to wipe out corruption totally. I would reiterate that this may be our last chance to get out of the “corruption trap”. Indeed, corruption could drag us all to the depths of destruction and deprivation, and even social instability, if we don’t fight it more aggressively.

Like others my age, I hope and pray the Government will resolve to take the MACC advice seriously and commit itself before and after GE14 to declare corruption one of the enemies of our beloved nation.

Article published in the New Straits Times and The Star.

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