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Pongal Festival Message by Lim Guan Eng in Komtar, George Town on Saturday, 14th January 2012: 

Pongal Festival Message 

On behalf of the Penang State Government, I would like to wish all our Hindu friends a very auspicious and prosperous Pongal Festival.

The Pongal Festival was traditionally celebrated by farmers to give thanks for the harvest. Today, we share in the spirit of Pongal to celebrate the rakyat who work hard and with honesty to earn a living for their families.

To honour the honest rakyat who work hard day in and day out, it is our duty to provide good governance, accountability and transparency in administration. That is why the Penang State Government has taken the important step to publicly declare the assets of its EXCO members.

This public declaration of assets fulfils the personal obligation of PR leaders and proves the political commitment of the Penang PR State Government towards reinforcing leadership with integrity in line with the CAT principles of Competency, Accountability, Transparency.

It is unfortunate that the same commitment is not shown by the BN Government. Because of the financial shenanigans of the BN leaders, Malaysians now mourn the "the lost decade of corruption", where the Washington-based financial watchdog Global Financial Integrity (GFI) estimated RM 1,077 billon of illicit money (including corruption money) had been illegally siphoned out of our country from 2000 to 2009.

Therefore, it is no wonder that in the latest Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index, Malaysia dropped to 60th place in 2011 as compared to 37th in 2003 when Tun Abdullah Ahmad first took over as Prime Minister. In contrast, Penang was praised by TI for implementing open tenders.

In light of this, I have proposed 6 integrity measures to overcome the excessive corruption and abuse of power that is now prevalent in our country.

One, there must be a ban on political parties' involvement in business which can only lead to conflict of interest.

Two, the ban on mixing politics with business must be followed by establishing an open tender system to check crony capitalism.

Third, Freedom of Information Act to ensure transparency and also public disclosure of government contracts.

Fourthly, following in the footsteps of Penang, there must be a public declaration of personal assets by public officials holding positions of public trust.

Fifth, there must be full and unconditional implementation of the 125 recommendations proposed by the 2005 Royal Commission on the Enhancement of the Management and Operation of PDRM, especially the formation of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

Finally, the Elections Commission (EC) must be punished for failure to act or even failure to press for action by the relevant authorities on election bribery, especially failure to comply with the Election Offences Act 1954 imposing election spending limits of RM200,000 for every Parliamentary constituency and RM100,000 for every state constituency.

These are the steps required to ensure integrity, accountability and transparency in the public domain.

Once again, in the spirit of thanksgiving, I would Iike to wish all our Hindu friends a very happy and auspicious Pongal Festival.

*Lim Guan Eng, Penang Chief Minister



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