Corruption in Malaysia: DAP wants all-party inquiry committee into causes of corruption

Speech by Serdang State by-election candidate, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, who is also DAP Organising Secretary, at a DAP by-election rally at Petaling Tin Mine, Sungei Way, on Tuesday, 17th December 1968 at 8 p.m.

Corruption in Malaysia: DAP wants all-party inquiry committee into causes of corruption

Point Ten of DAP’s Serdang by-election pledge, known as Serdang’s 20 Points, called for the “Elimination of corruption, at all levels of public life, particularly at high levels.”

Corruption in public life in Malaysia has increased under the Alliance rule over the years. It has infected almost every level of public life, from the lowliest to the highest.

The Alliance government lacks the will and resolution to stamp out corruption because the biggest offenders are to be found among Alliance political leaders, who make use of their position, power and influence for personal monetary gain.

We know of so many Alliance leaders who personal fortunes were made after they were elected to office or appointed to high public office, and the scramble for timber land, tin mining rights, etc.

In the Alliance, politics and election to State Assemblies and the Parliament is regarded as a passport to self-enrichment. We have Alliance M. P. s and Assemblymen, who before their election, were men of ordinary means. But after election, they swiftly begin to pile up wealth, property and fortune.

How can this be done within the legitimate means of $500 monthly allowance for an Assemblyman, or $750 monthly allowance for a M. P.?

Clearly, there has been shady and improper transactions and deals, which warrant public examination.

Unless the political leadership can stop setting the lead in malpractices corruption in the public service can never be stamped out.

Recently, the Alliance government formed the Anti-Corruption-Agency, which has proved to be a mere eye-wash, to deceive the public into thinking that the Alliance was really determined to stamp out corruption.

When the Anti-Corruption-Agency was first formed, the Agency Director, Inche Harun bin Hashim, made almost daily announcement of his plans to wipe out corruption.

He even declared that Cabinet Ministers are not immune from investigations from his Agency, and that Members of Parliament who go to cinema shows without a ticket will be investigated and suitably punished.

All Inche Harun’s big talk has fizzled out. Has he investigated a single Cabinet Minister? Has the Agency ferreted and uncovered on its own initiative, and not as a result of Opposition expose, a big case of corruption?

In fact, Inche Harun has been told by the Alliance government to ‘shut up.’

A recent case illustrates the impotence and ineffectiveness of the Anti-Corruption Agency.

In April this year, the Minister without Portfolio and MARA Chairman, Senator Ghaffar bin Baba, disclosed that MARA had to write off $600,000 because the borrowers could not pay up. He added that the MARA would not have approved these loans if Members of Parliament from the Alliance had not intervened, and asked the loans to be approved to give them ‘face.’

The DAP immediately called on the Anti-Corruption Agency to investigate into the M. P. s involved, to make sure that they had not personally benefited from the MARA write-off $600,000.

Instead of investigating, Inche Harun, the Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency, came to the defence of the M. P. s. He said there could be no corruption involved in such loans.

How did Inche Harun know? Is it impossible for a M. P. to get a cut from a MARA loan, which was now written off and need not be repaid? Would’nt such an act constitute corruption?

It is clear that Inche Harun and the Anti-Corruption Agency had no authority to stamp out big-time corruption among Alliance political leaders.

All that the Anti-Corruption Agency is expected by the Alliance to do this to make the greatest publicity for every constable arrested for taking 20 cents or one dollar bribes, or act in cases where the opposition leaders have exposed corrupt practices.

If corruption is to be kept severely under check and control, it is obvious that the political leadership must be free from corrupt practices. To ensure this, we in the DAP propose legislation to:

* REQUIRE all public office holders, including Cabinet Ministers, Mentri2 Besar, State Executive Councillors, State Legislative Assemblymen, to declare their wealth and income, and those of their next of kin, annually;
* PROHIBIT Ministers, Parliamentary and political Secretaries, Mentri2 Besar, State Executive Councillors from participating in business of any form;
* GRANT an amnesty period to government servants for their past trafficking in bribes if they make a clean breast of it, and turning their ill-gotten gains over to the government; and
* CONFISCATE all property and income after the amnesty period, whose origin could not be explained by government servants and political leaders.

There is no use denying that there is growing widespread corruption in the country. Government delay and inefficiency causes corruption, which in turn causes more delay and inefficiency unless there is the transfer of bribes, creating a vicious circle neither to the benefit of the public nor the country.

The practice of ‘speed money’ is now normal, where money must be passed to some government officials before the granting of licences, permits, etc, are effected. Otherwise, the application may lie in the files for a year or two without being attended to.

The Indian government appointed a Committee on the Prevention of Corruption in 1964 to inquire into the extent and causes of corruption. We in Malaysia should immediately institute a similar inquiry, to prevent corruption from striking deeper roots and sapping our national will for national reconstruction.

Such an inquiry committee, however, if it is to really go into the entire problem of corruption, must comprise representatives of the different political parties as well. It must have power to investigate into the personal transactions and dealings of every Cabinet Minister, every Mentri2 Besar, government servant or political leader. I hope the Alliance government will agree to the institution of an all-party Inquiry into the causes of corruption and to seek ways of preventing it.

Audited by: Joyce T. and Faiz M.