Rhetorical or realistic?

To its credit, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) has come out again with some commendable recommendations to combat corruption.

But Malaysians, who suffer from the growing scourge of corruption at all levels, would ask whether these measures are rhetorical or realistic. The measures are necessary but are they sufficient? They appear only partially adequate and certainly not comprehensive nor holistic enough.

Why do the new MACC measures appear to be rhetorical and not realistic?

Creating awareness of the evils of corruption among students and the consequent urgent need to combat it is important. But what about educating our many leaders, particularly politicians, to resist and combat corruption? It is they who must set the example for integrity or else be seriously penalised and punished.

It’s mainly the political leaders who make the real decisions at Federal, state and local council level on the award of huge contracts. The corrupt are not the engineering or finance or kindergarten students!

What about conducting orientation courses for all members of parliament, state assemblies and local councils on the dangers of corruption?

The MACC could show them the records of their wealth and assets before taking office and warn them that their conduct and wealth accumulation would be care­­fully monitored. Any major chan­ges to their wealth should be thoroughly scrutinised and brought to the notice of an independent commission or even made public.

Those who can’t prove that their new wealth is legitimate should be prosecuted, especially if there is evidence of suspected wrongdoing.

As is quite obvious to anyone, how long can the values of integrity taught by parents at home and teachers in school stand up to the raw power and greed that is shown and practised brazenly in the real world?

What else should be done to fight corruption?

Speed up the introduction of new laws to fight money politics. After all, money politics gives birth to, nurtures and amplifies the corruption that is eating into our society like white ants.

I dare say the voting public is getting more disenchanted and restless with the false promises of many politicians.

The MACC itself has been asking for reforms in the role and structure of the MACC Act and related laws. Civil society has been consistently asking for more effective means to fight corruption. But so far only peripheral policies and practices have been proposed.

Are the proposed awareness programmes in schools on how to deal with corruption another soft and ad hoc measure to fight corruption?

How serious are we in fully and sincerely implementing the UN Convention against Corruption that our Government signed in 2003 and which we ratified after five long years of indecision?

This vital question brings us all to the overriding Malaysian concern: How much political will does our Government have in combating corruption?

Let’s not forget the powerful influence of our religious teachers and leaders. Why are they not being more actively encouraged and even incentivised to preach against corruption?

Please don’t depend mainly on young students. Let the elders set the example of good governance so that the students can follow them.

As a former president of Transparency International Malaysia and also previous chairman of the Prevention of Corruption Panel of the MACC, I am very serious about my views and I hope they will be given serious consideration and followed up with a strong commitment to promote the national and public interests for our dear country.

Article published in The Sun, Malaysiakini, and The Star.

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