Zulkipli and Ramli’s date with Parliamentary Select Committee – March 12

Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) Director-General Datuk Seri Zulkipli Mat Noor has responded to very serious allegations of “being a very corrupt senior police officer who had amassed substantial property and assets through corrupt means” made against him by a former top ACA officer, Mohamad Ramli Manan while still in service in July last year before his retirement on December 8, 2006.

Zulkipli told New Straits Times: “Let the law take its course”.

He said that the allegations were “part and parcel of the agency’s operations”

He added:

“There are a lot of challenges in our line of work. Some (people) may be happy, some, of course, may not. The bottom line is justice must be done.

“In this context, certainly I do not want to get involved in matters, issues or allegations that have the tendency to belittle or tarnish the good image of an individual.”

Apart from the “Let the law take its course” statement, Zulkipli’s comments are not helpful at all in throwing light on the very serious corruption allegations which had been made against him by Ramli. The ACA head seems to have mastered the art of making statements which mean nothing at all.

While the law must undoubtedly be allowed to “take its course”, the immediate concern of all Malaysians serious about the pledge of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he became the fifth Prime Minister and during the 2004 general election campaign to give top priority to anti-corruption is whether Zulkipli can continue to helm the ACA with these serious corruption allegations hanging over his head. Or whether the ACA will be further incapacitated with such a person as its head.

This is one of the reason why the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity yesterday fixed March 12 for Zulkipli and Ramli to appear before it to address the issue whether it is proper for Zulkipli to continue to helm ACA.

Despite the Prime Minister’s commitment to give top priority to anti-corruption in his administration, and the National Integrity Plan five-year objective to improve Malaysia’s Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) from No. 37 in 2003 to at least No. 30 in 2008, the ACA had been fighting a losing battle both against corruption and to restore national confidence that the ACA is no more a “paper tiger”.

Zulkipli has failed as ACA head to spearhead the clean-up of corruption in the Abdullah administration, which is reflected by Malaysia’s seven-point plunge in the TI CPI from No. 37 in 2003 to No. 44 in 2006, for which he should have been summarily removed for dereliction of duty.

In fact, former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has made the very serious indictment that corruption under his successor has “appeared above the table” as compared to his 22-year administration.

Zulkipli said yesterday that Ramli’s charges were “baseless” and that prior to his appointment as ACA director-general, he had been vetted and cleared by both the ACA and police.

This raises the usefulness and effectiveness of such vetting process and the “integrity clearance” by the ACA and the Police — not only for top civil service positions but even for Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Chief Ministers, Mentris Besar, State Ministers and Excos.

Is it because the process to issue a bill of integrity for top office-holders is unsatisfactory and defective that the ACA has been such a failure on the anti-corruption front in the past three years, with its inability to net and bring to court the 18 high-profile personalities promised in the early days of the Abdullah administration, why the ACA has not been able to produce any results despite considerable publicity of various ACA investigations, whether concerning the scandals involving APs, MRR2 or the mega gambling debts of former Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Osu Sukam?

Malaysia will become an international laughing-stock if the ACA has a director-general who has serious corruption allegations swirling over his head.

  1. #1 by CoolMike on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 - 1:27 pm

    Usually a person should resigned or be make to resign while an investigation is carry out. In boleh land? No need to resign lah..

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 - 1:52 pm

    Supposing one says, “Let the law take its course” because he is confident that the Law will not take its course; supposing the Law will not take its course because those who could initiate or authorise the Law to do so, will not do so because they are beholden to him or he has something on them; supposing further he will not attend the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity hearing fixed for him on March 12th? What then? Is it against the law if he does not attend? Is it contempt of Parliament if he argues this these allegations have nothing to do with Parliament’s prestige, being an area within purview of ACA or PDRM to first investigate? If his bosses are not taking the allegations seriously to make him account, can a Parliamentary Select Committee?

    This statement was made – “There are a lot of challenges in our line of work. Some (people) may be happy, some, of course, may not. The bottom line is justice must be done. In this context, certainly I do not want to get involved in matters, issues or allegations that have the tendency to belittle or tarnish the good image of an individual.”

    The gist of this statement implies that it is not necessary for him to dignify allegations arising from malice by any serious response.

    He does not even hint that he will consider instituting a defamatory suit against those who published the allegations.

    Indirectly he is implying the allegations are so spurious and incredible that they convince no reasonable person and therefore inflict no real harm to his reputation and standing for him to take remedial action.

  3. #3 by liu on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 - 5:34 pm

    The ACA needs to be revamped along the lines of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong. It must be seen to have sufficient bite to deter corruption. Deterrence is crucial in the fight against corruption. Where deterrence fail, enforcement should necessarily follow to weed out the scourge from our society. If we are to be a developed country by 2020, our fight has to be successful. We have to fight smart. We can learn so much from the Hong Kong experience.

    Corruption in Hong Kong, especially in the police force, in the 60’s and early 70’s was stuff of legend and has been depicted time and again in the movies. The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) website describes it as follows:

    Hong Kong was in a state of rapid change in the sixties and seventies. The massive growth in population and the fast expansion of the manufacturing industry accelerated the pace of social and economic development. The Government, while maintaining social order and delivering the bare essentials in housing and other services, was unable to satisfy the insatiable needs of the exploding population. This provided a fertile environment for the unscrupulous. In order to earn a living and secure the services which they needed the public was forced to adopt the “backdoor route” “Tea money” “black money” “hell money” – whatever the phrase – became not only well-known to many Hong Kong people, but accepted with resignation as a necessary evil.

    The victims

    At that time, the problem of corruption was very serious in the public sector. Vivid examples included ambulance attendants demanding tea money before picking up a sick person and firemen soliciting water money before they would turn on the hoses to put out a fire. Even hospital amahs asked for tips before they gave patients a bedpan or a glass of water. Offering bribes to the right officials was also necessary for application of public housing, schooling and other public services. Corruption was particularly serious in the Police Force. Corrupt police officers covered up vice, gambling and drug activities. Social law and order was under threat. Many in the community had fallen victims to corruption. And yet, they swallowed their anger.

    Community backlash

    Corruption had no doubt become a major social problem in Hong Kong. But the Government seemed powerless to deal with it. The community’s patience was running thin and more and more people began to express their anger at the Government’s lukewarm attitude towards tackling the problem. In the early seventies, a new and potent force of public opinion emerged. People pressed incessantly for the Government to take decisive action to fight graft. Public resentment escalated to new heights when a corrupt expatriate police officer under investigation succeeded in fleeing Hong Kong. The case provided the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Last straw

    Controlling assets of over HK$4.3 million, Peter Godber, a Chief Police Superintendent, was under investigation in 1973. It was suspected that his unearned wealth had been obtained from corrupt means. But Godber managed to slip out of the territory undetected during the week given to him by the Attorney General to explain the source of his assets. Godber’s escape unleashed a public outcry. Students spearheaded a mass rally in Victoria Park, protesting and condemning the Government for failing to tackle the corruption problem. Demanding prompt government action, protesters with slogans like “Fight Corruption, Arrest Godber” insisted that Godber be extradited to stand trial.

    Answering the Call

    The Government had to respond. Following Godber’s escape on June 8, 1973, Sir Alastair Blair-Kerr, a Senior Puisne Judge, was appointed to form a Commission of Inquiry to look into Godber escape. He compiled two reports. The first on the circumstances of Godber’s escape. And in his Second Report, Sir Alastair pointed out clearly that “responsible bodies generally feel that the public will never be convinced that Government really intends to fight corruption unless the Anti-Corruption Office is separated from the Police….”

    Following fast on the heels of the Blair-Kerr Report, the then Governor, Sir Murray MacLehose (later Lord), argued for an independent anti-corruption organization in a speech delivered to the Legislative Council in October 1973.

    Decisive Action

    Sir Murray said, “I think the situation calls for an organization, led by men of high rank and status, which can devote its whole time to the eradication of this evil; a further and conclusive argument is that public confidence is very much involved. Clearly the public would have more confidence in a unit that is entirely independent, and separate from any department of the Government, including the Police.”

    Many in the community would say that they felt the wind of change at this time. They started to see the Government setting the stage for fighting corruption.

    The Birth of ICAC

    The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was established in February 1974. Since its inception, the Commission has been committed to fighting corruption with the three-pronged approach of investigation, prevention and education. The first important task of the Commission was to bring Godber to justice. In early 1975, Godber was extradicted from England to stand trial. The charges were a conspiracy offence and one of accepting bribes. Godber was found guilty on both counts and sentenced to four years imprisonment. Godber’s extradition and prosecution were demonstrative of the ICAC’s determination and resolution to eradicate corruption. It was this landmark case that kicked off a quiet revolution – a new start against corruption.

    Hong Kong today is one of the least corrupt societies in the world. Political and Economic Risk Consultancy in a report “Corruption in Asia” on 6th March, 2002 said:

    Corruption is not an accepted feature of Hong Kong. People do not like it and they have little tolerance for it.

    The Hong Kong government in its website says:

    Pro-active and resolute action by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has continued to be a major force in providing a cherished level playing field for business in Hong Kong.

    Concerns over the effectiveness of the ICAC after 1997 have long dissipated through continued and vigorous enforcement action. The public support rate hovers at 99%. There is no doubt that a culture of intolerance of corruption has firmly taken root in Hong Kong.

    Established in 1974, the ICAC has evolved into one of the world’s most effective anti-corruption agencies. It has been described as a ‘model anti-corruption agency’ in the Transparency International Global Corruption Report (October 2001).

    The ICAC investigates corruption cases in both the public and private sectors. A ‘zero tolerance’ stance against corruption has rendered Hong Kong one of the world’s cleanest administrations. Systemic corruption does not exist in the civil service.

    The ICAC helps government departments and public bodies to rid their systems of corruption opportunities while assisting private companies to strengthen internal controls.
    To maintain and enhance public support and vigilance against corruption, the ICAC produces educational and media programmes for all strata of the community. In addition, the Internet is also becoming a medium of choice
    for reaching the mass market.

    So why can’t we learn from Hong Kong?

  4. #4 by smeagroo on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 - 7:02 pm

    What can we learn from Hong Kong? We can learn how to act and direct a proper police tv show. Forget about Gerak Khas.

    Maybe for this case, PM will again set up another “special task force” to look into it. This ACA head is not alone if he is guilty. I am sure his subordinates are also in it. One man cant do so many things. I am sure now many of them are already peeing in their pants.

    But I dont foresee a miracle in this case. Even a small fry like Jasin MP also cant find any dirt (are the scumbags getting smarter) dont expect the blind ACA workers to find anything on this head.

    OOHhh, wasnt it just lately that the PM said 300 men have been added to the agency? The more the merrier? Dont forget, the more the lesser each gets.

  5. #5 by ahkok1982 on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 - 7:16 pm

    well, what does adding 300 more men into the agency mean? do you really think that they will welcome the 300 to take a share? of course not. those existing ones will continue to take what they have been taking all along while the new 300 will source for new ones so this means tt e total taken by e agency will swell.

  6. #6 by accountability on Wednesday, 28 February 2007 - 10:18 pm

    the last chunk of AAB’s fake transparency and accountability pledge has finally unraveled…

    ACA, the unit tasked to tackle corruption, is not only ineffective and inefficient, it does not even have a leader who is responsive or responsible enough to such serious allegations

  7. #7 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 1 March 2007 - 12:06 am

    The allegations made against the sitting head of the country’s ACA are symptomatic of the cancerous nature of a wider social disease – abuse of power. Politicians from the ruling party, heads of departments and government servants everybody who is anybody having power over government policies and decisions are guilty at one time or another of the seemingly innocuous misuse of power – be it in the indiscriminate use of government property for private and personal purposes or the more serious form of abuse of power which is corruption.

    A senior police officer with the rank of SAC 1 (I am of course assuming for the sake of argument) earning RM7,000 or more a month may be hard pressed to explain how he came to own landed properties valued at many millions of ringgit. But ownership of landed properties worth many millions of ringgit or ownership of substantial stocks in public listed companies is not prima facie evidence of the abuse of power. It is at best a presumption which can be rebutted.

    A serious allegation has been made by a subordinate against his superior. The party who has been accused is entitled to a hearing before a properly constituted tribunal; and perhaps even allowed to face his accuser if he is still serving. We certainly do not want to see a repeat of the mockery made of the English common law and Natural Justice (as we saw in the case involving the country’s Lord President not too long ago) by allowing a party who stands to benefit from the forced resignation by the accused, to chair the tribunal. The purpose of this disciplinary tribunal should be limited to finding if there has been a breach of the oath of office taken by Zulkipli after he assumed the office of head of the ACA. If there is a breach then he must be disciplined or made to resign.

    As to whether there is any crime or crimes committed whilst in office and when he was a senior police officer, that is a matter for police investigation. Since a police report has been lodged, we can assume that there has been some sort of police investigation and the investigation file may or may not have been forwarded to the AG for his decision. If the decision has been made to prosecute then we would like to know why the matter has been kept in cold storage, or otherwise held in abeyance awaiting a decision from a higher power.

    The party “on trial” is not just Zulkipli but the criteria used and the process followed when selecting the country’s ‘most powerful’ head of the ACA.

  8. #8 by DarkHorse on Thursday, 1 March 2007 - 4:02 am

    A former judge should be made to head the Anti_Corruption Agency and not a former police officer.

  9. #9 by budak on Thursday, 1 March 2007 - 9:50 am

    Zulkipli dare to say so because he know someone will come into light when he’s in trouble… Guess who…?

  10. #10 by Rocky on Thursday, 1 March 2007 - 10:42 am

    This is a joke. ACA chief should be clean and seen to be clean. The selection process for the ACA chief is flawed. How can one with so many issues, be selected and on top of that have his contract extended. It is freaking joke Pak Lah. And bear in mind in his leadership and Pak Lah’s, the courrotion index got worse.

    Cemerlang,Terbilang dan Gemilang Pak Lah and kuncu kuncu!!!

  11. #11 by DarkHorse on Saturday, 3 March 2007 - 12:49 am

    The qualification for a position in the country’s agency in charge of investigation into corrupt practices is that he should have a like record as those who are being investigated.

  12. #12 by shortie kiasu on Saturday, 3 March 2007 - 6:01 pm

    The government’s effort, or rather PM Abdullah Ahmad promise to get rid of corruption in government and civil service has been served with a laughing annecdote,that is, the chief of his anti corruption agency, the DG of ACA, is now mired in all sorts of allegations of corruptions, abuse of government vehicles for personal use, sexual assault case, amassing assets through dubious means, own and operate businesses…, name it he has it in the allegations against him by person who was an officer in his agency, who is subordinate.

    What the PM said now is just that a full investigation should be investigated, a typical response from him. “We will decide after the investigation” will be another reponse later.

    It is a mockery of the whole anti corruption campaign in this country, never ending episodes of mocking and shameful annecdotes in the annal of this country’s administration.

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