Corruption in Malaysia

Speech by DAP Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, on the 1961 Prevention of Corruption Act Amendment Bill in the Dewan Ra’ayat on July 26, 1971

Corruption in Malaysia

The problem of corruption has been raised many times in this House. This is as it should be, because corruption is not only the national cancer eating away the vitals of economic development in our country, it is the cause of the people’s lack of confidence in the honesty and integrity of the government leaders and administrators.

The government has made ostentatious propaganda and display of its efforts to prevent corruption, but this has only increased public cynicism about the government’s anti-corruption measures because they do not see any actual curb or elimination of corruption.

I have said that the most intractable problem is corruption in high places. Unless efforts are directed towards punishing corruption of those higher up, as higher officials, political leaders, big bribers in the business class, the disease of corruption all the way down to petty bribery will be protected.

All that the Anti-Corruption agency has done is to catch the small frys, by prosecuting and punishing a few lower-bracket officials. But the sharks, the ikan yus, have all been untouched.

The Hon’ble the Minister of Home Affairs, has told this House that it is not easy to catch the sharks, the ikan yus, because of the difficulty of getting evidence against them.

Mr. Speaker, Sir. I cannot agree. The public do not agree. This is the cause for the growing cynicism about the government’s professed aim to wipe out corruption, regardless of status, influence and position of the person involved.

Being sharks, the big-time operators in corruption, these people do not move around peons or clerks, but move among top political, and government leaders. Such sharks invariably involve other top political or government leaders and officers in their net of corruption, on the principle that the more other political and government leaders are involved in corruption, the more immune he is from prosecution.

Thus, if action is threatened against a big shark of corruption, the shark can hold the government to ransom by threatening to disclose corrupt dealings of other political or government leaders.

As such disclosures will cause a political crisis of great magnitude, only a government with an unswerving commitment to stamp out corruption could courageously press on with the prosecution of the shark – and the other political or government leaders who may be involved.

I accuse the government of lacking this will, and therefore in sincerity, in wanting to stamp out corruption.

As I had the occasion to suggest before, if the Director of Anti-Corruption Agency had the power to investigate into the case of every politician and ex-politician, on both State and Federal level, compare his income and wealth before political success and his wealth and income and that of his next of kin today, I am sure he will have ample material to occupy his staff for years.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, corruption must be ruthlessly stamped out without fear or favour if Malaysia is to have social discipline, a clean, honest and efficient public services, and political stability.

The government must be resolute and firm in prosecuting and punishing big sharks, whether in Malacca and any other state, and not let them loose after catching them in the net because of blackmail.

I had also suggested in this House that the government should introduce legislation to prevent corruption of legislators, whether Members of Parliament or State Assemblymen, who betray the trust and confidence of the electorate who elected them by switching parties because of monetary, material and other inducements.

A law requiring every MP or State Assemblyman who resigns from the Party on whose ticket he was elected to vacate his seat causing an immediate by-election will do the trick. If the M.P. or State Assemblyman had defected for good, honourable grounds, he should find no difficulty in getting endorsement and re-election by his electorate. On the other hand, a M.P. or State Assemblyman who defects for more personal gain will be rejected and repudiated by the electorate.

I await the government’s comment on this proposal.

Finally, I suggest that the government agree to the setting up of a Parliamentary standing committee on prevention of corruption, with broad representation from parties represented in Parliament, with power to receive and investigate into allegations of corruption of high political and government officials, and report to the relevant government departments its recommendations, and also to Parliament itself.

This proposal is in keeping with the principle of the unchallenged sovereignty of Parliament, and it will go a long way to assure the public that corruption at all levels is being seriously tackled.