Sunday, March 25, 2007

PROTECTION for Whistle Blowers – Watchdogs of CORRUPTIONS; Anonymous Bloggers - Mercy of Government Draconian Laws; DAP Lim Call for ROYAL COMMISSION

Tan Sri Mussa Hassan’s Appeal: I want the public NOT to take the easy way out by giving them. It is an offence to give and to receive

Inter Press Service

POLITICS-MALAYSIA: Watching the Watchdogs of Corruption
Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 16 (IPS) - Critics of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi who charge him with failing on his election promise to battle corruption in high places, say he might begin by affording protection to whistle blowers. Indeed tackling graft - which latest opinion polls show is considered more important than rising inflation or shrinking jobs - is taking political centre stage not because of government action but because whistle blowers and anonymous bloggers exposing high level corruption find themselves facing great risks.

At issue is the case of Mohamad Mana Ramli, a senior officer in the Anti Corruption Agency (ACA), who has accused no less than the agency's head Zulkipli Noor of amassing a fortune by corrupt means and of sexual misdeeds. Ramli's charges, levelled against the very man tasked with combating corruption, has shocked the nation. "The faith of the public in politicians and civil servants has been eroding for a long time. For us to hear allegations of corruption against Zulkipli Noor are surely another blow," said the mass circulation the Star daily in a commentary published on March 4."It is certainly ironic. The man who is supposed to help wipe out corruption has found himself accused of being corrupt. the allegations are serious and the implications certainly explosive," the commentary said.

Rising public frustration
In the second incident, this month, an anonymous blogger posted a page on the website alleging that Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum (ABOVE) collected RM5 million (US$1.42 million) to release three suspects from prison. Both Noor and Baharum, now under investigation, have strenuously denied the charges against them and urged police to investigate their accusers. The two cases indicate rising frustration in the public over lack of progress in combating crime and corruption. It also illustrates their willingness to take risks to expose corruption and other misdeeds to force the authorities to take action. Senior government officials face serious risks when blowing the whistle on official graft especially when no official policy exists to protect them from departmental action.

The government has failed to make laws to protect whistle blowers despite promises to protect their identities and reward them for the risks they take. Ramli who fingered his boss is already in trouble despite the wide publicity given to the case. He told the independent malaysiakini news website that attempts were underway to discredit him by planting stories in the media that he too had been investigated. "The reports are all defamatory. I have never been investigated, this is malicious," Ramli was quoted as saying.

''These are attempts to tarnish my reputation and make my life difficult." Likewise, bloggers are at the mercy of a government that is armed with numerous draconian laws against writers and publishers. Wealth corporations frequently use multi-million dollar libel suits as weapons and last month two bloggers were sued by the official New Straits Times newspaper for defamation. The case against the two has already had a chilling effect on the Internet community and the outcome will indicate the tolerance level of the establishment.

Problem acute and serious
A survey this month by the Malaysian chapter of the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) showed that the majority of 1,400 people polled want greater protection for whistle blowers. "The problem is acute and very serious," said Ramon Navaratnam, head of TI-Malaysia. Respondents to the survey said they would like to see the formation of an ombudsman on corruption and for the ACA to be placed directly under Parliament and not in the Prime Minister's Department.

The TI survey ranked the police force as the dirtiest, followed by the road transport and customs departments, reinforcing the findings of a royal commission in 2005 that found the police force the most corrupt of government departments. The ''longer the delay, the more doubt there would be, and the greater the erosion on the public perception of the government's intention to push forward with its policies of fighting corruption,'' Navaratnam said. Nearly 80 percent of corporate leaders polled said there was little transparency in the awarding of tenders. More than the survey, graffiti scrawled on sidewalks and underpasses speak of the specific failure of Badawi to deliver on a promise to bring 18 prominent persons to book. Like the graffiti writers, opposition lawmakers, human rights activists and even government backbenchers have been consistently piling pressure on Badawi to crack the whip.

''The ACA director general himself is accused of corruption," said Steven Gan, editor of malaysiakini. "Can it get any worst than this?" Critics say the only effective solution to the malaise is for Abdullah to place the ACA - which now reports to him directly - under an independent parliamentary committee with backbenchers and opposition lawmakers as members. Unwilling to rock boat But Abdullah, three years into his first term, is unable or unwilling to do that because that would mean confronting the powerful patronage system he presides over as chairperson of the ruling 13-party National Front coalition. He has admitted that stamping out the ''cancerous'' growth of graft is ''not easy''.

"In many ways corruption is institutionalised and is an integral part of the political and economic system," political analyst James Wong said. "Abdullah (Badawi) inherited the corrupt system. If he takes tough anti-graft measures he will rock the boat and that's the one thing he is unwilling or unable to do," Wong told IPS. Public perception of lack of progress against graft is confirmed by the country's slide in international corruption indices including that of TI which put it at 44th place in its 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index, down five notches from 2005. Despite his worsening record, Abdullah, a pious Muslim and the 'Mr Clean' of Malaysian politics, has defended the ACA.

"The ACA is doing its best" is his frequently quoted answer to questions on its poor performance. Abdullah cites as progress the fact that the ACA made over 1,500 arrests for corruption in 2006. "But most are ikan billis (small fry) or low-level officials," said parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang. "The big sharks of corruption are seldom caught." In official circles, however, Abdullah is somewhat admired for admitting that rampant corruption exists when his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad was in deep denial. "You can't single out Prime Minister Abdullah and blame him alone. Graft is not a one man's is a cooperative battle," said prominent government backbencher Shahrir Samad. "Everyone must be involved in the process. "It takes time...his anti-graft campaign has to work itself through the system.'' (END/2007)

= = =
Royal Commission of Inquiry on Corruption and ACA

Call made by Opposition Leader in -Speech (8) on Royal Address debate in Parliament 21.3.07

ABOVE: DAP Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang's clarion call for a Royal Commission

Some 40 months after Abdullah’s pledge to “walk the talk” to eradicate corruption, Malaysia is faced with the worst crisis of national integrity in the 40-year history of the Anti-Corruption Agency and 50-year history of the nation, with a spate of corruption scandals in the past two weeks, viz:
• Serious corruption allegations against the Anti-Corruption Agency director-general Datuk Zulkipli Mat Noor;
• Serious corruption allegations against the Deputy Internal Security Minister, Datuk Mohd Johari Baharun; in the Emergency Ordinance (EO) “freedom for sale” scandal; and
• Serious allegation by the Chief Justice, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim of judges who accept bribes.Internationally, Malaysia’s anti-corruption perception had been on a downward spiral ever since Abdullah’s takeover as Prime Minister.
Only last week, there was more bad news for Malaysia and Abdullah’s 40-month premiership.


If Malaysia does not pull up our bootstraps in the fight against corruption, we will soon be losing out to China and India – and it must be regarded as a national shame and tragedy if in any future international corruption ranking, Malaysia is regarded as so corrupt as even to lose out to China and India! Parliament must seriously address and debate the worst corruption crisis in the nation’s history, eroding public confidence in the integrity of institutions mandated to fight corruption, like the ACA. In the past 39 years, the ACA had been regarded as a “paper tiger”, with only power to go after the “ikan bilis” but not after the “ikan yu’s”even in the Abdullah administration as proven by the disappearance of the 18 “big fishes” which had escaped into the “high seas”.
A fundamental line has now been crossed by the ACA, when public doubts and skepticism are no more confined to its effectiveness or impotence to deal with the “high-profile”corrupt despite the worsening corruption problem in the country as reflected by the 21-place drop from No. 23 to No. 44 in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index in the past 12 years from 1995 to 2006.
For the first time in its 40-year history, public doubts and skepticism about the ACA have now extended to its very core purpose, the heart and soul of ACA on its integrity and incorruptibility. – with the ACA Director-General himself alleged to be guilty of corruption.

This has been aggravated by the farce illustrated by the following scenario:

Question One: Who is investigating the serious corruption allegations against the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) Director-General Datuk Seri Zulkipli Mat Noor?

Answer: Police

Question Two: Who is investigating the serious corruption allegations against Deputy Internal Security Minister, Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum of the EO “freedom for sale” corruption?

Answer: ACA.

Question Three: Will the ACA on the one hand and the Police and Internal Security Ministry on the other scratch each other’s back and exonerate one another?

Who can give a categorical answer in the negative? In fact, will the majority of Malaysians give “Yes” instead of “No” to the question? Unless the answer to Question Three is in the categorical negative for all or the overwhelming majority of Malaysians, then Malaysia has a very serious integrity question about the institutions in the country mandated to fight corruption and uphold law and order – the ACA, the Police, the Attorney-General’s Chambers. If Abdullah is serious about honouring his “zero-tolerance for corruption” pledge, there should at least be three policy initiatives in the Royal Address to give concrete form to his commitment to combat corruption, viz:

a Royal Commission of Inquiry on Corruption, probing the ACA and why corruption had worsened in the past three years instead of improving as well as the efficacy of asset declarations by government leaders, including Cabinet Ministers.

legislation to confer full autonomy to the ACA, removing it from the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Office and making it fully independent and answerable only to Parliament.

ACA director-general Zulkifli going on leave until outcome of investigations into serious corruption allegations made against him by former top ACA officer and whistleblower Ramli Manan.

But there was none of these government initiatives although the Royal Address did emphasise that “efforts to instill integrity and eliminate corruption and abuse of power must be intensified”. After the unprecedented 91% parliamentary majority in the March 2004 general election and 40 months, the time for “statement of intent” is long past and it is time for action and results. The ACA did not act independently and professionally when it did a most unusual thing in releasing selectively information to exonerate its director-general by revealing details of Zulkipli’s various declaration of assets in public service – when the serious corruption allegations against Zulkipli was being investigated by the police. This reminds me of my query to the ACA in July 2005 why it had failed to take action in the case of the former Sabah Chief Minister and Federal Minister for Land and Co-operatives, Datuk Seri Osu Sukam, in its investigations as to how he could have amassed such astronomical wealth as to gamble RM158.7 million, lose RM31.6 million and run up RM7.1 million debts in a London casino a year after political retirement, apart from bigger gambling debts in other casinos as well as in other countries like Australia.

I had pointed out that in Osu Sukam’s 15 years in various public offices from Deputy Works Minister in 1986 to Sabah Chief Minister 1999-2001, Osu would have at least made four declarations of his assets to the Prime Minister. All these four declaration of assets to the Prime Minister should be the basis on which the ACA should launch a thorough investigation as to whether Osu had corruptly and illegally amassed such astronomical wealth as to enable him to gamble hundreds of millions of ringgit in various casinos in London and Australia a year after his political retirement. Or are declarations of assets whether by political leaders in government or top government officers so unsatisfactory and defective that they are worthless tools in the battle to promote national integrity and combat corruption? This is why the efficacy of assets declarations by government leaders, whether political or civil servant, should also be a subject of a Royal Commission Inquiry. Now erosion of public confidence in the integrity of institutions have spread further to include the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity, as a result of its majority decision yesterday to cancel the hearings for Zullkipli and Ramli earlier scheduled for tomorrow. I am barred from parliamentary standing orders from disclosing what transpired at yesterday’s Select Committee meeting, but there is no hiding my deep disappointment and the adverse public reactions to the latest developments. As I said on my blog, I am mulling over whether I should continue to sit on the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity.

= = =
Johari grilled by ACA ... for 12 hours; NST, 22nd Mar 2007 ; Farrah Naz Karim

His statement is believed to have been recorded in the marathon interview that took place in his office. A stakeout at the ministry here saw several ACA officers entering his office block about 10am. They were only seen leaving at 10pm. It is understood that the officers did not take any documents from Johari’s office after recording his statement over claims that he had received a RM5 million bribe to release three men detained under the Emergency Ordinance.

When the case was highlighted a fortnight ago, investigators seized documents relating to the allegations. Johari had on Saturday said he was ready to be investigated on the matter, adding that he was leaving it to the authorities to probe. ACA investigations director Mohd Shukri Abdull declined to comment when asked about the matter yesterday. He also kept mum on whether there was “a case”against Johari. Johari is alleged to have failed to sign documents of the extension of preventive detention orders against three men suspected of gangland activities, such as loan-sharking, extortion, prostitution, assault and illegal gambling. He has denied the allegations and appeared to blame police for procedural irregularities in submitting files to his office.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Mohd Najib Abdul Aziz said police would conduct an internal inquiry into the documentation for the three men alleged to have been freed. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, when asked if the graft allegations against Johari had tarnished the government’s credibility, said it would be a problem for the government if such cases continued to surface. Johari, who had a post-Cabinet meeting with the prime minister yesterday, could not be reached for comment.

Malaysia Johor Bahru

Career Malaysia
Job Malaysia
Recruitment Malaysia
Technician Malaysia


Post a Comment

<< Home

Get complete protection against viruses, worms and Trojan horse programs – CA Anti-Virus 2008! Click here for cheap hotels
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Multidimid. Make your own badge here.
Blogroll Me!

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Add to Google Add to Google