Don’t go ‘light and easy’ on graft


I REFER to the article “Ex-top judge gets life for graft” (The Star, July 2).

Akil Mochtar, Chief of the Constitutional Court of Indonesia, received the heaviest punishment for accepting bribes and money laundering.

The significance of such a landmark verdict is that it sends shivers to others not to engage in corrupt practices.

It also sends a strong message that the Government wants a squeaky-clean civil service.

We in Malaysia should emulate our neighbours and come down hard on top corrupt officials and politicians.

According to the 2014 Malaysian Corruption Barometer Index, only three out of 10 Malaysians believe that government efforts in fighting graft is effective. This also explains why our standing in the Corruption Perceptions Index has fallen from 24 in 1995 (among 177 countries) to 53 in 2013.

Time and again we hear of grand plans by the Government in its efforts to get rid of corruption but somehow the results or impact have not materialised as planned.

The appointment of ex-Trans­parency International Malaysia’s president Datuk Paul Low in May 2013 to oversee graft brought cheers to Malaysians but after more than a year, the cheers have somewhat moderated or even faded away.

Is Pemandu’s role in curbing corruption up to the public’s expectations? Your guess is as good as mine. For instance where is the report card on the establishment of Compliance Units in key enforcement agencies such as the police, JPJ and Customs?

In 2010, the Prime Minister launched the MyProcurement portal in a big way and raised the expectations of the public that government tenders given out will be competitively priced.

After four years, the portal has not delivered what it promised and is subject to criticism for lack of transparency in the information provided.

How about the widely-publicised declaration of assets by ministers and civil servants started years ago when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was Prime Minister? Don’t the authorities bother to at least provide an annual report card on this? The public has a right to know who is living beyond their means?

Then somebody came up with this great idea of establishing Integrity Units within ministries, which is an acknowledgement that integrity issues remain a major problem in the Government machinery to root out corruption and ensure good governance. Again the public would like to know the impact so far. Where is the report card?

To surmise on the above, we take pride in highlighting good plans, measures and a lot of money to combat corruption but the follow-up and execution of the plans are weak. The public is kept in the dark on the results and impact of the implementation.

When questioned on the weaknesses, ministers and senior civil servants are quick to give an assurance that the matter is being looked into and that action will be taken. It appears that we are good at giving promises and assurances but do not “walk the talk”.

The public gets the impression that the Government is not serious about taking the “bull by the horns” or that it does not seem keen to adopt a zero-tolerance stance towards graft.

For instance, despite the millions of ringgit lost due to civil servants not following Standard Operating Procedures as pointed out in the Auditor-General’s Report, so far only one officer has been fired for misconduct or graft this year.

Sixty-six officers were merely given warning letters or had their promotions delayed by 30 months. Compare this with the life imprisonment meted out to the top judge in Indonesia. The facts speak for themselves!

S. PAUL

Kuala Lumpur

Opinion , Letters , letters