by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Java on Wednesday, December 28, 1994:
DAP call for full revamp of Anti-Corruption Agency to give it full powers to launch a full-scale war against corruption as Mahathir regards corruption as ‘minimal’ in Malaysia
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, said yesterday that ‘corruption was minimal in the country’ and asked how Malaysia could achieve an 8.5 per cent growth rate over the last seven years if Malaysia was as corrupt as made out by the Western newspapers.
I do not know which Western newspapers Dr. Mahathir is referring to, so I cannot comment on their reports.
I believe however that if there is a public opinion poll in Malaysia as to whether corruption in Malaysia is minimal, serious or a very serious problem, I have no doubt that only a small percentage of Malaysians would state that corruption is a ‘minimal’ problem.
Furthermore, if there is a public opinion poll as to whether the Anti-Corruption Agency is allowed to conduct a full war against corruption in Malaysia particularly the corrupt in high political places, I have also no doubt that the response of the majority would be in the negative.
Mahathir should know that Malaysia’s 8.5 per cent growth rate over the last seven years has no relationship whatsoever with the question as to the gravity of corruption in the country, as there have been countries in the past and even at present where corruption was a very serious problem although they achieved comparable or even higher growth rates.
If there is ‘minimal corruption’ in Malaysia, as claimed by Mahathir, then the Government should have no qualms to totally revamp the Anti-Corruption Agency to give it full powers to declare a full-scale war against corruption in Malaysia.
The real problem in Malaysia is not that corruption is ‘minimal’, but that the powers of the Anti-Corruption Agency to combat corruption in high political places is ‘minimal’ and the Government has up to now shown no inclination or will to give the Anti-Corruption Agency the full powers and free rein to declare war against corruption – particularly corruption in high Political places.
This is why the Government has refused to accept the DAP proposal that the Anti-Corruption Agency should be removed from under the Prime Minister’s Department and elevated into an Anti-Corruption Commission answerable only to Parliament with full powers to initiate investigations against any Cabinet Minister – as in Italy, where the Italian Prime Minister himself was not spared.
This is also why the Government had refused to consider the proposal submitted by the Anti-Corruption Agency two years ago for a new Prevention of Corruption Act to strengthen the anti—corruption legislation as well as enhance sentences for
The question whether Rafidah Aziz had committed a corrupt practice on the issue of the allocation of special bumiputra shares to her son-in-law should be left to the courts to decide
On the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Rafidah Aziz and the allocations of preferential bumiputra shares to her son-in—law, Mahathir said it was up to the Anti- Corruption Agency and the police to investigate.
Mahathir said: “I do not conclude that just because there is a charge there, then she is corrupt or anybody else is corrupt.
“I believe in waiting for the process of justice to go through before making any decision whether there is corruption”.
In actual fact, there is not much for the Anti-Corruption Agency to investigate in the case of the allocation of special bumiputera preferential shares to Rafidah’s son-in-law, as Rafidah has admitted to the facts of the case – that she was present at the meeting of her Ministry’s shares allocation committee which decided to approve the allocation to her son-in-law although she did not take part in the deliberations.
In view of previous cases decided by the courts in Malaysia that such a conflict-of-interest situation constitutes a corrupt practice, the ACA and the Attorney-General, Datuk Mohtar Abdullah should not usurp the jurisdiction and powers of the courts and should let the courts decide this issue.
The question is whether the Attorney-General and the ACA will be allowed to let the courts decide whether Rafidah Aziz had committed a corrupt practice, or whether this decision will he removed from the courts and would be made by the political leadership.