THE bust of the “project cartel” syndicate behind the RM3.8bil worth of government tenders by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) days ago, hopefully, will slowly but surely eliminate graft practices and other forms of irregularities, abuse of power and mismanagement within the public service which has long been tainted by the acts of some bad hats and unscrupulous quarters.
MACC, hopefully, will continue intensifying its sting operations to detect hanky-panky and other “negative” goings-on to ease the civil service as well as the private sector of this “disease”, which has become severely cancerous based on the high number of cases and arrests.
If the revelation by MACC chief Datuk Seri Azam Baki early this year that more than 460 civil servants have been arrested for committing various corruption offences throughout last year is anything to go by, the figure, indeed, is worrying.
Right from support groups, management and professionals up to the top management group, the offenders, in this case, civil servants, only have us, the rakyat, to be worried about and continue questioning the integrity and credibility of the public service, not to mention the low level of confidence we have in their efficiency and performances.
They also tend to undermine government policies.
Members of the public are not to be blamed if they have this impression that the issues of integrity and abuse of power are being taken lightly by government personnel. Henceforth, it is pertinent that government servants take note of Azam’s reminder for all civil servants to work closely with the anti-graft body to address the issue of corruption by being the agency’s informers or whistle-blowers so that corrupt officials could be brought to face the brunt of the law.
Before exposing the “project cartel” which led to some arrests, including a "Datuk" who is a senior government officer, Azam had sounded the alarm some time at the end of last year that corruption in government procurement will result in the building of substandard infrastructure and erosion of confidence in government agencies.
Several dailies reported Azam as saying that corruption cases resulting in leakage in government procurement had become increasingly critical, with 50% of such cases involving government agencies.
In the end, the taxpayers become the victims as not only were their monies being stolen but they were also robbed of good value assets due to substandard infrastructure or poor infrastructure which may cause safety risks.
Another anti-corruption campaigner, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, in a brutal statement on corruption, said “those found guilty of corruption in China will be shot. I am not saying we should do the same here but we must put the fear of being caught into people.”
The arrests made in the cartel project plus other graft-related high-profile cases involving individuals with titles since early this year, nevertheless, are positive reflections of the ongoing efforts by the Perikatan Nasional-led government under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to eradicate corruption while upholding the rule of law.
When the Prime Minister took office last year, he pledged a clean and corruption-free government, one that works with integrity. Muhyiddin highlighted that efforts to enhance integrity and good governance, including stamping out corruption and abuse of power would be enhanced through empowerment and enforcement of the relevant laws, regulations and practices.
To prove his point, the Perikatan government is still fulfilling the initiatives outlined under the National Anti-Corruption Plan 2019-2023, which was launched by the former administration.
The vision is aimed at creating a clean business environment, improving government efficiency, transparency and accountability based on good governance, and upholding the rule of law.
Also, at the end of last year, the government’s special Cabinet committee on anti-corruption had agreed on several recommendations to improve governance and integrity as well as to combat graft in this country.
In other words, all the decisions made were aimed at zero tolerance towards corruption.
Among other things, it agreed to enhance the disciplinary process in public service, refine the guidelines of issuing support letters to administrative members, reduce leakage of government’s revenue and improve tender evaluation methods by improving the integrity of information.
Perhaps, the crippling of many graft-related cases thus far could be the results of both the government and the MACC’s affirmative actions in their pledges to combat corruption.
All these only indicate that preventive and punitive actions have been and are being mounted to battle corruption to the core, without fear or favour.
YUSOF ABDUL SAMAD