By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, August 2, 1993:
Kit Siang writes to Mahathir calling for the sacking of Othman Abdul as Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Department
I have today written to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, calling for the sacking of Othman Abdul as Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Department.
I referred to Othman Abdul’s reply to question by the DAP MP for the Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng in Parliament last Wednesday on whether the Anti-Corruption Agency had submitted a draft for a comprehensive anti-corruption law to the government and its response. Othman Abdul’s prepared reply was:
“BPR tidak menyampaikan apa-apa deraf kepada pihak Kerajaan kerana ianaya tidak perlu.”
In my supplement question, I told Othman Abdul that he was misleading the House as the Anti-Corruption Agency Director- General, Tan Sri Zulkifli Mahmood, had told me at a meeting with him last year that the ACA had submitted a draft for a new corruption law to the Government and that it ws being studied by the Attorney-General’s Chambers. Tan Sri Zulkifli had also made such an announcement in the press.
Othman Abdul’s reply was most flippant and irresponsible, as he said:
“Tuan Yang di Pertua, ini adalah jawapan Kerajaan. Kalau sekiranya Ketua Pengarah BPR menyatakan kepada Yang Berhormat dia telah menghantar, itu soal Ketua Pengarah dan Ketua Pembangkang. Apabila kita tidak menerima, kalau Kerajaan mengatakan tidak menerima, saya menyatakan bahawa Kerajaan tidak menerima. Ini soal fact – fakta yang ada pada kita….. Jadi saya hendak menyatakan bahawa Kerajaan mengatakan bahawa sekarang ini kita tidak menerima sebarang draft anti-corruption yang disediakan oleh BPR untuk Kerajaan kaji setaket ini.”
If I have to choose between believing Tan Sri Zulkifli Mahmood or Othman Abdul, I have no problem in placing full trust in the ACA Director-General.
In fact, Tan Sri Zulkifli had started in the press more than a year ago that the ACA had finalised a draft for a new corruption law with widened powers to allow the ACA investigate into privatised entities, like MAS, Telekom and Tenaga National.
Tan Sri Zulkifli said that under the present Anti-Corruption Act, the ACA does not have adequate powers to investigate into malpractices which could occur in these privatised entities.
He said the draft anti-corruption law which has been submitted to the Attorney-General would also enhance penalties for corruption offences.
He even expressed the hope that the new Anti-Corruption Bill could be presented to Parliament by the end of the year.
In my letter to the Prime Minister, I protested against the flippant and irresponsible attitude shown by Othman Abdul on the important subject of corruption in Parliament and asked that Othman Abdul should be sacked as an example to all other Minister, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries that they should take their responsibilities and Parliamentary performance seriously.
Public confidence in the ACA and the government’s seriousness in fighting corruption will sink to zero if after 16 months’ investigation, the Attorney-General comes out and say that no offence had been committed.
In my letter, I also asked the Prime Minister to be consistent with his ‘Look East Policy’ and declare corruption as public Enemy No. One.
It is clear that Malaysia is lagging behind in the war against money and politics and corruption in Asia, particularly in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
The Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib, said in Brunei yesterday that he and the Anti-Corruption Agency were in the “process of discussion” to establish whether there was a case for action to be taken in the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal.
He said:” Now we have to establish whether an offence has been committed, then whether there is enough evidence to prosecute.”
This is a most shacking announcement and seems to indicate that the 16 months of investigations by the ACA into the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal have gone down the drain, and that the investigations have reverted to ‘square one’.
Surely, the ACA would have ascertained and established whether “an offence has been committed:, before it conducted wide-ranging investigations and before the Attorney-General himself approved the issue of an order to the MIC President, Datuk Seri S. Sammy Vellu and other MIC leaders to declare their family assets, inside and outside the country.
Is the country to be told soon that no offence had been committed at all in the MAIKA Telekom shared hijacking scandal, and all the great publicity about ACA investigations in this case was just a publicity exercise to impress the Malaysian public of the government’s seriousness in the fight against corruption?
It is safe to assume that the ACA has recommended arrest and prosecution after completing its investigations into the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal, as otherwise, there is no need for the Attorney-General and the ACA Director-General to be in the “process of discussion to established whether there was a case for action to be taken in the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal.
It is also safe to assume that the Attorney-General is reluctant to arrest and prosecute in the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal.
The Malaysian government authorities cannot be serious about declaring corruption as public Enemy Number One, if after 16 months of CA investigations into the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal involving a Cabinet Minister, the whole investigations are now back to ‘square one’ to ascertain whether ‘an offence has been committed.’
Both the Attorney-General and the ACA must be warned that public confidence in the ACA and the government’s seriousness about fighting corruption would sink to zero if the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal is now buries after 16 months of investigation with the Attorney General declaring: No offence had been committed!
It would be more relevant for the Attorney-General and the ACA Director-General to discuss the political ‘clean up’ in South Korea for instance, where in a matter of seven months, President Kim Young –sam had fired, reprimanded or jailed 3.000 Government officials, businessmen and politicians on bribery charges.
In Taiwan, there is a ‘sunshine law’ requiring all political leaders, including the President , the Prime Minister and all legislators, to publicly declare their family assets and deposit their financial holdings in blind trusts.
In Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party had fallen from power after 38 years because of money politics and corruption.
Even in China, a ‘clean up’ is underway in a campaign headed by Vice Premier Zhu Rongji to fight corruption, including calling in dubious bank loans which had been given out at favourable terms to those with high political connection.
The outcome of the MIAKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal will be an acid test as to whether Malaysia is participating in this Asian mainstream movement to declare war on corruption, or whether Malaysia is going against this international trend.