I commend the Foreign Minister Anifah Aman for declaring publicly that he has not received any funding from Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s RM2.6 billion personal accounts in AmBank in 2013 for 13GE campaign.
Malaysians are intrigued why Anifah is the only one out of 69 Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Senators will have to be excluded) who dare to declare that the has not received any funding from Najib’s RM2.6 billion personal accounts for 13GE campaign.
Although my 96-hour notice to all Cabinet members to demonstrate that the Najib administration is serious when it proposed the National Consultative Council on Political Funding by individually declaring whether they had received any funding from Najib’s RM2.6 billion personal accounts for the 13 GE campaign, and if so, how much they received and spent, Cabinet Ministers could still declare whether they had been connected in any way to Najib’s RM2.6 billion personal accounts.
Since the DAP forum “Ke Mana Halatuju Malaysia” at Tropical Inn, Johor Baru on Monday night, I had named 18 Ministers and two deputy ministers and asked them to declare whether they had received funds from Najib’s RM2.6 billion personal accounts for the 13th General Election campaigning, and if so, to state the amounts.
Anifah is the only Cabinet Minister to respond and in the negative.
Lest Ministers and Deputy Ministers not named in the twenty names I had mentioned thought the omission is a good excuse for them to keep their silence, let me name the third batch of 10 Ministers/Deputy Ministers who should declare whether they have received funding from Najib’s RM2.6 billion for 13GE campaign and if so, the amounts involved.
The third list of 10 Ministers/Deputy Ministers are:
1. Hamzah Zainuddin – Minister (Domestic Trade, Co-operatives, Consumerism).
2. Johari Abdul Ghani – Deputy Minister (Finance)
3. Nur Jazlan Mohamed – Deputy Minister (Home)
4. Abdul Aziz Kaprawi – Deputy Minister (Transport)\
5. Hilmi Yahya – Deputy Minister (Health)
6. Mas Ermieyati Samsudin – Deputy Minister (Tourism, Culture)
7. Mohd Johari Baharom – Deputy Minister (Defence)
8. Reezal Merican Naina Merican – Deputy Minister (Foreign)
9. Abu Bakar Mohd Diah – Deputy Minister (Science, Technology, Innovation)
10. Jailani Johari – Deputy Minister (Communications, Multmedia).
Looking at the Cabinet list, one is struck by its size which had increased further after the Cabinet reshuffle on July 28, from 35 to 37.
In fact, Najib has now the most number of Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department, as there are now 11 Ministers with the latest addition of Azalina Othman.
The number of Ministers in Najib’s Prime Minister’s Department is even bigger than the first Cabinet of the country when we achieved Merdeka in 1957, when we had a Cabinet of only 10 Ministers!
The annual budget for the Prime Minister’s Department alone is a walloping RM19 billion, which is about 20 times more than the full Federal Government budget when we achieved Merdeka 58 years ago – which was around RM800 million.
But the Malaysian Cabinet today is not able to be as effective and productive than the Cabinet of 1957 – despite having a 11-Minister Prime Minister’s Department which is bigger than Tunku Abdul Rahman’s first Merdeka Cabinet!
Is Malaysia going forward or backward in good governance, economic efficiency or human capital development?
Although not surprised, I am disappointed that Anifah has so far been the only one of the 30 Ministers and Deputy Ministers named to declare whether he or she had received funding from Najib’s RM2.6 billion personal bank accounts for 13GE campaigning.
Malaysians will wait and see whether there are more Ministers or Deputy Ministers who will step forward to declare their stand, as Malaysians are dumbfounded that the culture of subservience are now so deep-rooted that even those Ministers and Deputy Ministers who have not received a single sen from Najib’s RM2.6 billion personal accounts for 13GE campaign dared not speak up, with the exception of Anifah.
Despite 58 years of nation-building, Malaysia has not made much headway in developing a culture of zero tolerance for corruption in high political and public places. In fact, we seem to have become worse in this field than during the times under the first three Prime Ministers, Tengku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn.
I still remember that four decades ago, I had moved a private member’s bill to be known as Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 1975 to propose three amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1961, viz:
(i) to make it an offence for any public officer including Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Chief Ministers, EXCO Members, members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies or civil servants who have amassed property or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, punishable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or to both imprisonment and fine;
(ii) to provide powers to the Government to forfeit the property or the value of the pecuniary resources acquired by the accused; and
(iii) to provide for the accused to prove his innocence where the accumulation of such property or pecuniary resources has been proved;
as more effective legislative measures to combat and check the mounting scale of corruption in high public positions.
In my speech in Parliament when moving the private member’s bill on Oct. 27, 1975, I explained the objectives meant to be achieved by the private member’s bill, viz:
• Corruption must be sternly stamped out as it undermines social discipline, retard development efforts, and lay the seeds for national disintegration.
• Corruption among minor officials cannot be combated if it is not first stamped out at higher levels.
• A full purge must be conducted in the whole Government and public services to check misconduct in the Government and to restore the declining public confidence in public office, so that those guilty of conspicuous spending, unexplained wealth, incompetence and involved in graft and corruption can be speedily brought to court without delays.
• Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Menteri-menteri Besar, Chief Ministers, State Executive Councillors, Members of Parliament, State Assemblymen and top public servants must be above suspicion that they are corruptible and are immune from punishment for corrupt practices.
Two years later, in my motion on the private member’s bill to be known as Ministers and Members of Parliament (Declaration of Assets) Act 1978 in Parliament on Oct 18, 1977, I said:
“In Malaysia, the problem is not ikan bilis corruption, but corruption in high political and public places.
“In my mind, there cannot be any effective war against corruption in the country unless there is an honest and incorruptible political leadership, where every political leader is prepared to subject himself regularly to public scrutiny and accountability to demonstrate that he has not abused his public or political office for personal monetary gain.
“Political corruption takes many forms and has many causes. For instance, the annual allocation of $100,000 a year for Barisan Nasional Parliamentary constituencies for minor development projects is a form of political corruption. Yet the Government cannot recognize it for what it is, which showed that it has a moral blind-spot which prevented it from discerning what is morally right and what is morally wrong.”
This moral blind-spot which prevented government leaders from distinguishing between what is right and wrong, politically and morally if not yet legally, has worsened over the years.
This is illustrated by Najib’s announcement to buy support and loyalty from UMNO/BN Members of Parliament in the midst of talk of a possible motion of no no confidence against him in Parliament.
On Sunday, Najib announced that more money will be provided for UMNO/BN MPs next year with financial allocations to BN parliamentary constituencies increased from RM5 million for each UMNO/BN MP.
Imagine a more than 50-fold increase for UMNO/BN MPs allegedly for their constituency development from four decades ago – which is denied to Oppositon MPs as if taxpayers’ money are the private funds of the UMNO/BN Ministers and MPs.
Here is where corruption started – the fatal moral blindspot to distinguish between right from wrong, as illustrated by the twin scandals of 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion Najib personal accounts and why Najib’s proposal of a National Consultative Council on Political Funding is doomed to failure if such moral blind-spots about corruption are not eradicated and persist among the government Ministers and leaders.