Next week will see a choice between kleptocracy and integrity

Lim Kit Siang

9 Nov 2019, 11:26 am

Updated a year ago


MP SPEAKS | Next week will be an important week for Malaysia in determining whether Malaysia is to make a complete break from the past of global kleptocracy and become a top world-class nation of integrity.

On Nov 11, the Kuala Lumpur High Court will decide whether the former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak walks free or will be ordered to enter his defence on seven charges of abuse of power, corruption and money-laundering involving RM42 million of funds from SRC International.

On Nov 16, the voters of Tanjong Piai will cast their votes in the parliamentary by-election to demonstrate whether Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, will continue to support the Pakatan Harapan government’s "New Malaysia" objective to become a top world-class nation of integrity although this mission will take more than one general election cycle of at least one decade or more to accomplish.

Recently, the global anti-corruption movement, Transparency International (TI), which releases the prestigious annual Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranking and score for the nations in the world since 1995, celebrated its 25th anniversary.

It came out with a list of 25 corruption scandals that “shook the world” in the past 25 years, and Malaysia made it to this infamous list because of the 1MDB scandal.

In a statement, TI said:

”Twenty-five years ago, when Transparency International was founded, corruption was seen as the necessary price of doing business and something so deeply ingrained that exposing and fighting it was regarded as futile and even harmful.

“We live in a different world now, citizens, media and politicians across all regions actively condemn abuses of power. Such an attitude change is partly due to exposure to past scandals and their consequences.

“We compiled a list of some of the biggest corruption scandals over the last 25 years that inspired widespread public condemnation, toppled governments and sent people to prison. These scandals involve politicians across political parties and from the highest reaches of government, staggering amounts of bribes and money laundering of epic proportions.

“In the wake of many of these scandals, many governments and international bodies committed to or implemented anti-corruption reforms, counted and, in some cases, recovered losses.

“While much progress has been made to improve accountability, raise awareness about how corruption happens and change norms and perceptions, we still have a long way to go to learn from these scandals and fight corruption effectively.”

Undoubtedly, we in Malaysia “still has a long way to go” to establish the fundamentals of a nation of integrity to ensure that it can become a top world-class nation, regarded and admired by the world as among the top 30 countries for integrity, anti-corruption and good governance.

Next week will go a long way in deciding whether Malaysia takes the turn towards a nation of integrity or we backtrack to again allow a global kleptocracy to make a comeback.

The kleptocrats and the corrupt in many of the 25 corruption scandals that shook the world in the past 25 years have been sent to prison for their corruption and abuses of power, but the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia is one great exception.

In several foreign countries, bankers and finance officers have been convicted and even jailed for corruption, criminal breach of trust and money-laundering in connection with the 1MDB scandal, except in Malaysia.

The most recent outstanding 1MDB development in a foreign country is the US$1 billion settlement by an alleged 1MDB scandal mastermind, Jho Low, with the US Department of Justice with regard to its litigation to forfeit 1MDB-linked assets in the US and the UK.

But in Malaysia, nobody has yet been sent to jail for the corruption and money-laundering of the 1MDB scandal although Malaysia is home to this epic corruption scandal with films and books being made.

The historic decision of the 14th general election on May 9, 2018, will be meaningless if Malaysia does not turn its back on its humiliating past as a global kleptocracy and set inexorably the trajectory for a nation of integrity in the coming years.

This is why the Tanjong Piai by-election on Nov 16 is very important for one of the issues the by-election will decide is whether the long-term effort of the Harapan government to root out the 1MDB scandal and other corruption scandals in Felda, Felcra, Tabung Haji, Mara and other institutions still have the support of the people of Malaysia to send the corrupt to jail to pay for their crimes.

Or whether a global kleptocracy will be able to make a comeback in Malaysia.

LIM KIT SIANG is the MP for Iskandar Puteri.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini. 

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