Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill 1971

Speech by Sdr. Lim Kit Siang on the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill 1971 in the Dewan Rakyat on July 26, 1971.

Sir, the problem of corruption has been raised many times in this House and now we have this Amendment Bill. 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 ostentations propaganda and display of its efforts to prevent corruption, but this has only increased public cynicism about the Governments anti-corruption measures because they do not have any actual curb or elimination of corruption in high places. Unless efforts are directed towards punishing corruption of those higher ups, as higher officials, political leaders, big bribers in the business class, the disease of corruption all the way down to pretty 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 Honourable the Minister of Home Affair 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 l aders. 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 governments leaders are involved in corruption. 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, Mr. Speaker, Sir, 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 service and political stability. The Government must be r resolute and firm in prosecuting and punishing big sharks, whether in Malacca or 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 M.P or State Assemblymen 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 had 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 a broad representation from parties represented I 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 un-challenged sovereignty of Parliament, and it will go a long way to assure the public that corruption at all levels is being seriously tackled. Thank you.