October 29, 2015
Fighting Corruption is Everybody’s Business, but …
There is a general consensus on the effects of corruption. It threatens the rule of law, democracy and human rights, undermines good governance, distorts competition and hinders economic development. It endangers democratic institutions and the moral foundations of society.
During this time of economic challenges and strong headwinds that Malaysia is facing, these elements begin to take on a new dimension. Fight corruption effectively or face the myriad of disastrous consequences that it brings.
The question that invariably emerges is – whose responsibility is it to tackle corruption? Is it only the government and enforcement agencies who are responsible or are there others who are guilty of aiding and abetting corruption merely by their ineffective discharge of the duties that they have been entrusted with?
The recent arrest of local council officers in Selangor, the charging of naval officers, police and customs officers and like, indicate that somebody has not been doing their jobs of supervision effectively. They have failed miserably at executing good governance yet continue to draw emoluments for the services which they have failed to provide. Surely this is not ’halal’.
Does it need the enforcement agencies like the MACC to do undercover work and detailed investigations to haul up the errant individuals? Get it right the first time. Supervise effectively and play your part as one of the stakeholders in the fight against corruption. Otherwise it can be perceived that you yourself are corrupt –thus negativity towards officers serving the public. Whilst all in society must play their part, inevitably the major stakeholder continues and always will be the government.
To be fair, much has been done but there are some loose ends which are in dire need of having to be tied up. These must proceed with haste. The government should not be seen as ‘pussy footing’, ‘walking softly-softly’ or dragging its feet on matters which fall directly under its purview. This will cause perception issues and cynicism on the government’s openly stated commitment to fight corruption and improve on its ranking in corruption perception indexes.
Whilst it is lauded that immediate action was taken when officers of the MACC were transferred out by rescinding such transfer orders, there must be structural changes made to reflect this commitment of non-interference in anti-corruption efforts.
Immediate action is needed on some much delayed fronts. These are the formation of a separate service commission for the anti-graft agency and the appointment of the chief commissioner who should be independent with security of tenure.
On the corporate front, the much delayed corporate liability provision which allows for corporations to be charged for accepting and receiving bribes has been on the backburner for much too long. Swifter action is also needed on enacting laws on political funding. This is globally recognised as the ’mother’ of corruption. Malaysia is no exception as it has been seen!
There are many stakeholders in the fight against corruption. The government should not slacken its efforts in tackling the terrain. A Minister at Federal level (Mr. Paul Low) has been appointed to fight this menace showing the degree of commitment. This has to be buttressed by ensuring that all who are committed and engaged to fight corruption can do so without fear or favour.
It is merely putting to legislation what has been committed by the government as it stands against corruption. Surely, that is not a Herculean task.