Parliament should respond to the King’s call for an all-out war against corruption by setting up a Select Committee Against Corruption headed by the Opposition to provide parliamentary leadership to the campaign so as not to be seen as a laggard in the anti-corruption drive

Speech (2)
on Supply (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure) Bill 2004
by Lim Kit Siang

(Dewan Rakyat, Tuesday): The Yang di Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail has made one of the most exciting royal speeches in recent times when he called for a determined effort against the corrupt, irrespective of their rank or position in society. 

Speaking at the investiture ceremony marking his official birthday, the King said the Government would treat all cases of corruption, whether they involved prominent personalities or unknowns, with equal vigour. 

He said: “Corrupt practices, even though not rampant, should be fought to the end. My Government will continue its anti-corruption efforts strictly and transparently”.

Parliament should respond to the King’s call for an all-out war against corruption by setting up a Select Committee Against Corruption headed by the Opposition to provide parliamentary leadership to the campaign so as not to be seen as a laggard in the anti-corruption drive. 

On Saturday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi also spoke about corruption in his interview with CNN’s Talk Asia programme, where he said  he would only be satisfied when  Malaysia’s corruption index has improved by leaps and bounds. 

This reiteration of Abdullah’s election pledge to create a clean, incorruptible, efficient, trustworthy and people-oriented government, together with the King’s royal command  for an all-out war against corruption, should be  powerful wake-up calls  to all sectors of the Malaysian society to take a clear stand against corruption in all its forms. 

This includes Parliament which in the past few decades, had completely failed to play any leadership or pro-active role to create a new culture of political integrity with zero tolerance for corruption.   

In fact, in the past decade, no single Barisan Nasional MP had ever expressed concern about the lowly placing of Malaysia in the international corruption perception indices, especially the Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index which saw Malaysia’s ranking plunging from 23rd placing in 1995 to 37th placing last year!   

When I was in Parliament from 1995 to 1999, I was the only Member of Parliament talking about TI’s Corruption Perception Index, and in the past five years, this concern had continued to be expressed by other DAP MPs in the last Parliament – but again with not a single Barisan Nasional MP showing any interest or concern! 

I therefore urge the  Cabinet tomorrow to agree to  the establishment of a Select Committee Against Corruption before the adjournment of the current Dewan Rakyat meeting on June 14. 

It is most unfortunate and distressing  that the first three weeks of the 11th Parliament failed to communicate to Malaysians and the world the powerful message that there is now  a new-found political will on the part of the government and Parliament in an all-out war against corruption, because of three episodes: 

  • The attempt by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nazri Aziz to explain away the “ another 18 high-profile corruption cases” disclosed by the then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim on February 13, 2004  after the arrest and the charging of former Perwaja Steel Bhd chief executive officer, Tan Sri Eric Chia and the former Land and Co-operative Development Minister, Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam – as if the “another 18 high-profile corruption cases” have suddenly vanished into thin air.
  • The denial of Barisan Nasional authorization and even knowledge of the multi-million ringgit series of “BN phantom election advertisements” in the Chinese newspapers, in particular those depicting Abdullah as “modern-day Justice Bao” to “cleanse” a  BN government which was “corrupt and rotten to the very core”.  This raises the question whether the Barisan Nasional government has lost all the anti-corruption fervour expressed during the election campaign.
  • The lack of positive response to the proposal to establish a Select Committee on National Integrity to provide parliamentary leadership and support for Abdullah’s agenda of an all-out war against corruption.

Nazri should give a clear-cut Ministerial statement to dispel perceptions that there is a cover-up of the  “18 high-profile corruption cases”.

Nazri had said in his reply during the winding-up of the debate on the Royal Address on Wednesday that  the 18 “high profile” corruption cases referred to by the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim, in February this year had included former Perwaja Steel Bhd chief executive officer, Tan Sri Eric Chia and the former Land and Co-operative Development Minister, Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam, when clearly this was not the case. 

Eric Chia was charged in court for corruption on February 10, 2004 and Kasitah Gaddam claimed trial  to corruption charges on February 12, 2004.  Rais Yatim only made the statement in Jelebu on February 13, 2004 that at least another 18 high-profile corruption cases were still with various authorities awaiting further action after the Eric Chia and Kasitah Gaddam cases. 

In a front-page headline, “18 lagi kes besar – Menteri antara individu berprofil tinggi dalam siasatan BPR”, Utusan Malaysia dated 14.2.2004 reported:

“JELEBU 13 Feb. - Sebanyak 18 lagi kes rasuah yang membabitkan individu berprofil tinggi termasuk menteri, kini memasuki peringkat akhir siasatan, kata Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim.

“Menurutnya, apabila prosedur akhir pengumpulan bukti oleh Jabatan Peguam Negara dan Badan Pencegah Rasuah selesai sepenuhnya, mereka ini akan dihadapkan ke mahkamah.

“Bagaimanapun Rais enggan mendedahkan mereka yang dikatakan sedang disiasat itu.

“’Saya cuma boleh katakan bahawa mereka ini mempunyai reputasi kepentingan awam yang tinggi, profil yang tinggi dan mempunyai nilai tanggungjawab yang berada pada strata teratas.

“’Walau bagaimanapun terdapat sebahagian daripada 18 kes itu mempunyai beberapa masalah dari segi pengumpulan bukti-bukti kukuh bagi menyokong siasatan dan dakwaan,' katanya kepada pemberita selepas melakukan lawatan kerja ke Kampung Orang Asli Ulu Lakai, di sini hari ini.”

It is clear that Rais Yatim  never included Eric Chia and Kasitah Gaddam in his “18 high-profile corruption cases pending action by the various authorites”, as Rais Yatim made the disclosure after both Eric Chia and Kasitah Gaddam had been charged.

In his speech in Parliament, Nazri had sought to give an accounting of the “18 high-profile corruption cases”, that 12 had been charged in court and another six awaiting decision of the Attorney-General.  Nazri said that apart from Eric Chia and Kasitah Gaddam, the other 12 already charged in court were two  former Selangor executive councilors, two former MPs, two from Permodolan Nasional Bhd, the general manager from Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia, the Telekom general manager, Kangar Municipal President and one former Perak executive councilor.

The case of the former  Kangar Municipal President, Baharudin Ahmad, who was charged in Kangar Sessions Court with four counts of corruption totaling RM387,500 on 9th February occurred a week before Rais Yatim’s statement and cannot be included among the “18 high-profile corruption cases”.

Further  more,  all the other cases cited by Nazri do not qualify to be “high-profile cases” as defined by Rais, “mempunyai reputasi kepentingan awam yang tinggi, profile yang tinggi dan mempunyai tanggungjawab yang berada pada strata teratas”.

But the most fatal blow, the coup de grace so to say,  to Nazri’s explanation of the “18 high-profile cases”  had been delivered by none other than the ACA director-general, Datuk Zulkipli Mat Noor, whose statement in Bintulu at the end of the last month about the “18 high-profile corruption cases” was reported by both Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia.

Berita Harian of 28.5.04 under headline “BPR serah siasatan 18 kes profil tinggi” reported:

“BINTULU: Badan Pencegah Rasuah (BPR), sudah menyerahkan hasil siasatannya ke atas 18 kes berprofil tinggi kepada Jabatan Peguam Negara.


“Ketua Pengarahnya, Datuk Zulkipli Mat Noor, berkata kini terpulang kepada Jabatan Peguam Negara untuk membuat pendakwaan berdasarkan bukti yang dikumpul BPR atau sebaliknya.


"’Ini kerana pendakwaan bukan bidang kuasa BPR, ia adalah kuasa Jabatan Peguam Negara,’ katanya kepada pemberita selepas merasmikan pejabat cawangan BPR di sini, semalam.


“Beliau bagaimanapun enggan mengulas sama ada hasil siasatan itu, termasuk kes yang tiada bukti, akan diumumkan seperti saranan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Isnin lalu.


“Perdana Menteri memberitahu Dewan Rakyat Isnin lalu, kerajaan akan turut mengumumkan kes rasuah yang tiada bukti untuk mengelakkan rakyat tertunggu-tunggu hasil siasatan sehingga boleh menimbulkan keraguan dan imej negatif kepada kerajaan.


“Zulkipli berkata, Jabatan Peguam Negara akan memutuskan tindakan yang perlu diambil berasakan peruntukan undang-undang sedia ada ke atas hasil siasatan 18 kes itu.


“Beliau juga enggan mengulas sama ada kes itu turut membabitkan menteri besar atau ketua menteri.


“’Saya tidak akan mensensasikan isu ini. Lebih elok pada hemat saya, kita beri penekanan kepada usaha BPR meningkatkan kesedaran perlunya masyarakat menghindarkan gejala rasuah,’ katanya.”

It is clear that to the ACA director-general, the “18 high-profile corruption cases” are all in the future tense while Nazri wants Parliament to believe that only six cases are in the future tense while ten cases had already been dealt with!

I find the denial by Nazri that the Barisan Nasional had not given any authorization to a series of election posters advertised in the Chinese newspapers carrying the BN logo  quite mind-boggling, as the identities of those responsible for these Barisan Nasional “phantom advertisements” should be open  secrets.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, should direct the MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and the Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik  to give full and satisfactory accounting in Parliament by way of personal explanations for the March 16  “phantom election advert” in all Chinese press on Abdullah as “modern-day Justice Bao” and confessing that the BN government was “corrupt and rotten to the very core”.  This is imperative as MCA and Gerakan must prove that the election victory of their Ministers, MPs and State Assembly members were not because of the BIG LIE in the March 16 “phantom advertisement” which nobody dares to claim responsibility! 

I can accept Nazri’s statement  that he knew nothing about the Barisan Nasional “phantom election advertisements” in the Chinese press during the general election, and his further claim that the March 16 “phantom advertisement” had no authorization or approval of the Barisan Nasional top leadership – if what he meant was the UMNO leadership. 

But how could MCA and Gerakan leaderships disclaim responsibility for the full-page “phantom advertisements” which are read by by some three million Chinese newspaper readers in the country?  The latest Nielsen Media Survey gave the following readership for the Chinese newspapers as follows: 

China Press               710,000
Kwong Wah               271,000
Nanyang                   296,000
Sin Chew                1,098,000
Guang Ming                394,000

Although the DAP has lodged police reports yesterday in seven states, namely Penang, Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Sarawak  to demand police investigation as to what offences had been committed under the Penal Code, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the election laws, among others, the MCA and Gerakan leadership are duty-bound to own up as to  their political responsibilities and to explain their role in the multi-million ringgit phantom election advertisements.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman