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Abdullah  should harness Opposition support in the faltering  campaign against corruption by establishing  an Opposition-headed Parliamentary Select Committee on National Integrity to open a new front against corruption


Media Statement

by Lim Kit Siang  

, Thursday): The front-page headlines of two English mainstream newspapers today eloquently summed up the schizophrenia in the two-year war against corruption of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – New Straits Times“GRAFT FIGHT TAKING BITE – PM: I haven’t lost momentum” and  the Star’s “Construction sector – Choked with graft”.  (The Sun also carried the front-page headline: “Tainted by graft”).

New Straits Times reported the Prime Minister’s assurance at the second stop of his Malaysian Global Roadshow in New York that his campaign against corruption is beginning to yield results where it matters most – “on the ground”.


He told fund managers in New York, who had earlier wondered whether the Prime Minister had the stamina to see through all the reforms he had started:  “People believe that I have begun to lose momentum. I assure you I have not.”


The Star on the other hand reported the very opposite situation “on the ground”  – with urgent calls  for political will to fight the scourge, or to quote former director-general of the Anti-Corruption Agency, Datuk Shafie Yahaya, “the government should act quickly to curb the growing corruption”!


Reporting on the “Integrity in the Construction Sector” forum held at the Malaysian Institute of Integrity, it quoted industry players who said the construction sector is “extremely prone” to corruption and that graft and bureaucracy are choking the multi-billion ringgit business.


Datuk Roslan Awang Chik, the Malay Contractors Association president, said at the forum: “There are occurrences where people do pay to get a job, and it is a known fact that those who pay are afraid to report for fear of being blacklisted.”

He said it was sad to note the giving of small bribes growing into the giving of bigger ones and becoming a way of life.  

“It has become a custom, and it should be wiped out or society is going to suffer in future, especially the future generation. 

“It would be a sad day if this was passed on as a tradition to our children. This is not the society we want to have.” 

According to him, every time contractors asked for a favour, they had to pay a bribe. 

“From licensing and tendering to consultation and approval of projects, or from the acceptance to the completion of a project, we have to give out money. 

“If you hold on to your principles, you don’t get the job.”  

This is the picture of corruption in Malaysia, not before Abdullah became Prime Minister but after  nearly two years as Prime Minister!

The adverse  Transparency International (TI)  Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2004, where  Malaysia plunged to 39th position as compared to 37th placing the previous year and No. 23rd ranking in 1995, failed to be a “wake-up” call to the government and nation  that without systemic change and political will of the Cabinet, Parliament and society   to create a new culture of national integrity with zero tolerance for corruption,  there can be no appreciable dent in the fight against graft. 

There was no sense of shock or outrage at the poor score. The 2004 TI CPI was completely ignored by the Prime Minister  and government when it should be the cause for  a wide-ranging national debate involving the  Cabinet, Parliament,  the civil society and the mass media as to why Malaysia had failed to improve in the 2004 CPI ranking or score after a year of new commitment under Abdullah’s  premiership to declare an all-out war against graft, when other countries like Thailand and South Korea had  been able to improve  in both indicators in the previous year. 

I had repeatedly warned in Parliament that the drafting and launching of a National Integrity Plan does not per se make a country clean and incorruptible or set it on the path to greater integrity. Bolivia is a good  example of a country which had become more corrupt despite the launch of a national integrity plan – falling from No. 69th ranking in 1998 before its national integrity plan to No. 122 six years later in the TI CPI 2004.

Abdullah  should harness Opposition support in the faltering  campaign against corruption by establishing  an Opposition-headed Parliamentary Select Committee on National Integrity to open a new front against corruption.


When Parliament meets on Monday, 19th September, the first question during the question hour is my question to the  Prime Minister as to whether he supports the establishment of Parliamentary Select Committees for (i) National Integrity, (ii)  Higher Education and (iii) International Trade and Industry  towards creating a First-World Parliament.


This is an occasion and opportunity  for Abdullah to announce in Parliament a new initiatives to arrest the faltering campaign against corruption, opening  a new front with the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on National Integrity headed by an Opposition MP.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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