Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the Seri Rambai Dap Branch official opening dinner held at Taman Seri Rambai, Bukit Mertajam, on Saturday, 22.8.1987 AT 9 p.m.
Relaxation of rules for civil servants to do business when there is growing incidence of conflict of interest situations involving high public officials will not enhance public confidence in the integrity and incorruptibility of government leaders and officials
It was reported today that the government has relaxed rules for civil servants to engage in business. Under the new Public Service Department directive, civil servants can now set up family-holding companies to administer property-including capital, buildings or land-owned by them and their immediate families. They are also allowed to sit on the boards of these companies subject to certain conditions imposed by their departments.
The relaxation of rules for civil servants to engage in business come at a time when there is the most intense and widespread public concern about the lack of integrity in the public service. There are more and more incidents of conflict-of-interest situations involving high public officials, which the government has failed to give a satisfactory explanation or accounting.
The UMBC shares transaction, the EPF shares scandal, the Mamimco mysterious tin-buying caper, and the latest UEM contract for the privatisation of the North-South Highway, are among the major issues where there is clear conflict-of-interest situation and which have caused the public great concern about the standards of public integrity in the country.
Last week, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Datin Paduka Rafidah Aziz, returned from United Kingdom and said that market gossip about corruption in the country is killing potential British investment in Malaysia.
If it is true that ‘market gossip about corruption’ has developed to such a serious stage as to be capable of killing potential foreign investment in Malaysia, the government has to bear the full blame and responsibility, as it has create the conditions for such ‘market gossip’ to thrive. The DAP has called for an open and accountable style of government, and in particular with regard to decision-making pertaining to economic and financial matters, where public doubts and queries about conflict-of-interest or other unethical conduct could be resolved publicly and satisfactorily.
It was the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir Mohamed, who said in January when he addressed the UK UMNO Club that “We have reached a level where we can no longer trust in people…we live in a society which no longer has any honour”.
The pre-condition for the government to restore national as well as international confidence in the integrity of our government leaders is to work out a mechanism to ensure public integrity and accountability where ‘market gossip about corruption’ would have no credibility, where people can again be trusted, and honour restored to our society.
At this time when such a mechanism has not been devised to make people have faith and confidence in the integrity of public officials, the relaxation of rules for civil servants to engage in business will not enhance public confidence in the integrity and incorruptibility of government leaders and officials. It is only likely to further undermine public confidence and to make ‘market gossip about corruption’ more credible!
2. DAP to launch the nation-wide 1990s Movement with two public ceramahs in Penang Island on 4th Sept. and Bukit Mertajam on 5th Sept.
The Dap will launch the nation-wide 1990s Movement with a public ceramah at the Penang Chinese Town Hall on Friday, 4th Sept. , followed by another public ceramah in Bukit Mertajam the next day.
The DAP’s 1990s Movement is to raise the political consciousness and commitment of all Malaysians to mobilize and direct their political power to shape Malaysia in the 1990s.
There is considerable fear among the people about Malaysia in the 1990s. But fear and concern, doubt and worry, is negative and cannot change things. Malaysians must realise that what Malaysia is going to be like in the 1990s is being decide now, and they must take part in this important decision-making process if they are not to be more spedtators!
This is why the DAP has formed a 1990s Movement Task Force, which will go on a state-by-state visit starting with Penang in the first week of September, to launch the 1990s Movement in every state.
At the 1990s Movement public ceramah in Penang Island and Bukit Mertajam, the ten major issues which will determine Malaysia in the 1990s will be discussed and considered, namely:
1. The New Economic Policy and demands for its extension as well as for the increase of the 30% bumiputra quota to 50%;
2. Review of the Education Act 1961, and in particular the challenge faced by Chinese and Tamil primary schools, as well as independent Chinese secondary schools;
3. Growing challenge by extremists to the constitutional guarantees on the position and rights of Chinese and Tamil language, as illustrated by the University of Malaya elective course and Johore Seafood Festival Chinese signboard incidents;
4. Racial polarisation;
5. Religious polarisation and Islamisation;
6. Corruption , growing incidents of conflict-of- interest situations, and scandals the latest of which is the North-South Highway scandal;
7. Threat to long-term stability and harmony by the million-odd illegal immigrants;
8. The worsening position of Malaysian labour and the grave problem of unemployment;
9. Problem of Economic Recovery;
10. Government threats to human rights, freedom of Parliament and independence of Judiciary.