Cabinet Committee on Integrity – what is it doing to turn back tide of corruption in Malaysia?

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is both right and wrong when he said that it is unfair to say the government is not serious in fighting corruption simply because Tan Sri Eric Chia has been acquitted.

He said yesterday that one should not judge the government’s earnestness in fighting graft based on a single case such as that of the former managing director of Perwaja Steel Sdn. Bhd who was acquitted of criminal breach of trust charges involving RM76.4 million on Tuesday.

Najib is right that normally the government record whether in its battle against corruption or any other policy matter should not be judged on the basis of one case, except that the Eric Chia corruption trial bulked large as it was hailed as the most high-profile evidence of the Abdullah administration’s resolve to launch a crackdown on corruption.

As the most high-profile anti-corruption case that had been thrown out of court, especially after the failure to nab the 18 “big fishes” which the Abdullah administration had earlier promised to arrest and prosecute for corruption, Najib should realise that the Eric Chia case has assumed the epic proportion of the test case of the Abdullah premiership to “walk the talk” to fight corruption.

The circumstances of Eric Chia’s acquittal — where the defence was not called because the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case — was a most ignominous reflection on the government’s will to fight corruption as well as the professionalism of the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Gani Patial and his prosecutors.

As the Attorney-General is appealing against Eria Chia’s acquittal, Malaysians will have to suspend judgment until outcome of the appeal.

However, Najib and the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should realize why the government’s anti-corruption campaign is so intimately tied to the outcome of the Eric Chia case — as there has been no other higher profile case in the past 44 months.

In the last general election, the overwhelming majority of Malaysians believed that Abdullah is a new broom to sweep out corruption in Malaysia.

Today, in a matter of three years, the overwhelming majority of Malaysians are disenchanted that Abdullah had failed them, as there is not only no seriousness to honour the election pledge to wipe out corruption, the corruption situation had worsened with Malaysia dropping a further seven points from No. 37 in 2003 to No. 44 in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI), with all signs pointing to the country heading further south in the TI CPI 2007 towards the No. 50th ranking — ironically in conjunction with Malaysia’s 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations.

Abdullah and Najib should stop denying the undeniable — that Malaysia has gone further down the slippery slope of corruption in the past 44 months despite all the rhetoric of fighting corruption and promoting national integrity.

Hopefully the impasse and disarray of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity following the public resignation of Tan Sri Bernard Dompok as Chairman could be resolved before the end of the current parliamentary meeting on July 10.

There is a Cabinet Committee on Integrity headed by the Prime Minister. What is this Cabinet Committee on Integrity doing to turn back the tide of corruption in Malaysia, with so many questions about national integrity unresolved and unanswered — whether the outcome of investigations into serious corruption allegations against the former Anti-Corruption Agency director-general, the Deputy Internal Security Minister or the Inspector-General of Police?

  1. #1 by a-malaysian on Friday, 29 June 2007 - 8:21 pm

    The top police said he is clean, the owner of the illegal big mansion is clean, one big shot in Sarawak sues the online news media and he is not corrupted. Everyone say they are clean, he is clean, she is clean and the cabinets are all clean. No one is corrupted in the government, so they said.

    Than, mr. bodohwi, can I ask you why your 2004 ge manifesto put the top priority to fight corruptions when there is totally no corruptions at all according to your men and women.

    BODOH of the highest order. Denial, Denial keeps on denying

    50 years is ENOUGH
    Vote For A Change
    Vote For Any Opposition
    Give Them A Chance To Change For A Better Malaysia
    Remember bn Is A Useless Grouping Of Self Serving, Corrupt, Dictator, Power Crazy, Racist, Kris waving, etc, etc type of parties.

  2. #2 by toyolbuster on Friday, 29 June 2007 - 9:23 pm

    “In the last general election, the overwhelming majority of Malaysians believed that Abdullah is a new broom to sweep out corruption in Malaysia”
    But Malaysians found out too soon that this was a broken broom with no warrantee refund. A lesson to learn for Malaysians.. never buy cheap stuffs.

  3. #3 by undergrad2 on Friday, 29 June 2007 - 11:45 pm

    “The circumstances of Eric Chia’s acquittal – where the defence was not called because the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case – was a most ignominous reflection on the government’s will to fight corruption as well as the professionalism of the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Gani Patial and his prosecutors.” Kit

    Malaysia has all the laws necessary but it lacks the political will to see them enforced. In Eric Chia’s case, the prosecution could have been handicapped in their offer of the evidence by the government in not wanting to facilitate the cross-examination of overseas witnesses. Merely taking depositions and examining them that way is not a substitute for the in-court cross examination of witnesses that we see in an open trial.

  4. #4 by Jonny on Saturday, 30 June 2007 - 12:27 am

    same old same old. Juz a drama only.

  5. #5 by sk88 on Saturday, 30 June 2007 - 6:35 am

    Corruption will bring down even the wealthiest of nations within a short period time. Blatant disregard for the rule of law is certainly a recipe for the rot to set in. Malaysia will certainly fit this description. Malaysia will certainly rot away like countries such as Indonesia and Nigeria despite the massive natural resources.
    In Malaysia, the politicians and the well connected people are immune from the laws of the nation and they are free to gather as much wealth as they want to satisfy their greed.
    Sometimes the application of laws depends very much on the race of the person.
    Racial politics have corrupted the minds of the people to the extent that everyone is turning into a racist. It is rare for people to look at one another as a fellow human race. Example, to consider extending assistance to another needy fellow countryman, often one enquire whether he or is a Malay, Indian or Chinese.
    Corruption has become a way of life, be it private or public sectors. People who has the power to deal with suppliers, for example, would make a some money at the side and nobody is ashamed of it because it is acceptable and it is a rezeki some say.
    Yet, politicians are proud that they are doing a great job in building the nations while it is rotting away towards becoming the Taliban of the South East Asia.

  6. #6 by liu on Saturday, 30 June 2007 - 6:54 am

    It is interesting that Sudirman Haji Arshad, the singer and Abdul Ghani Patail graduated with LLB the same year in 1981 with 3rd class. Azhar Muhamad now a judge also graduated the same year.

  7. #7 by Godamn Singh on Saturday, 30 June 2007 - 9:03 am

    I know for fact about the late singer who got third class – but Ghani Patail??? No!

  8. #8 by liu on Saturday, 30 June 2007 - 10:44 am

    Godamn Singh, look up MLJ 1991 for the list of law graduates and maybe you can confirm. It is a list of who’s who. A rather samll group of graduates with only 3 who got 3rd class. The New Straits Times on its front page 2 days ago quoted Justice Datuk VT Singham as asking “Why is the legal profession in this state?”. We now produce lawyers in quantity but where is the quality. That is why we have DPPs and lawyers fumbling and dropping the ball in court. And criminals including those corrupt are just smiling.

  9. #9 by JusticeII on Saturday, 30 June 2007 - 11:02 am

    and he is the principal legal adviser to the government!!!! No wonder this country’s new name is Bodohland. This is a circus, where clowns and jokers rules. And the king’s jester is AAB.

  10. #10 by Kingkong on Saturday, 30 June 2007 - 11:20 am

    The Roar For Justice. Corruption has gone to the extreme.

    A very brave woman by the name of Nor Azah, a women’s right fighter went to the high court alone where Atantuya’s case was on ( 29-6-07 ) to protest against the injustice of women facing in our country.

    Her quotations:

    1. There is nothing to be proud of. The wife should be ashamed of the husband’s behavior, and not to go printing that kind of “proud of it “on the T- shirts to show off.

    2. Why the rich people can do anything they like, including taking away people’s life.

    3. I want to tell Dr Shaariibuu that not all Malaysians are evil. In this world there is still justice.

    4. What kind of country is this? Full of bloody violence and even the enforcement officers are involved.

    According to China Press dated 30-6-2007, Nor Azah is a woman right activist in Ireland. She is a single mother, and she herself was almost raped in a car park of some star hotel in KL and she knew she couldn’t get back her justice when the VIP suspect and the corrupted enforcement officers were seen rubbing shoulders with one another. Finally she left for Ireland for some short course and now got involved with the women right fighting five years ago.

    Based on her own experience, she sympathized with the Atantuya’s family’s difficulty in seeking justice in Malaysia.

    Her eloquent English was able to response to the unjustified demand of the police officers whist holding a solo protest.

    Bravo, Nor Azah you show us a good example to fight against injustice mainly due to corruption, the cancer of the country.

    Similarly, to fight against corruption, we need more brave Malaysians to come out to fight in the open.

  11. #11 by k1980 on Saturday, 30 June 2007 - 12:34 pm

    //Ghani Patail graduated with LLB the same year in 1981 with 3rd class// Let him sit for the CLP exam and see how he fares

  12. #12 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 30 June 2007 - 6:16 pm

    Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib said that it was unfair to judge the government’s earnestness in fighting graft based on a single case such as that of the former managing director of Perwaja Steel Sdn. Bhd who was acquitted of criminal breach of trust charges involving RM76.4 million.

    YB Kit, actually there may yet be “another” case, if you look closer – the present trial of murdered Mongolian beauty Altantuya Shaariibuu.

    I have nothing against capabilities of present prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah but I understand that first of all he is more a prosecutor in the Civil (as distinct from criminal) Division head in the Attorney-General’s Chambers and secondly even he himself was caught in a lurch when unexpectedly called upon to lead the prosecution team with two other senior DPPs, Wong Chiang Kiat and Manoj Kurup.

    The fact remains it was Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Salehuddin Saidin and his team that was most familiar with Altantuya’s case having prepared for it for over a year!

    Therefore it seems to me that if success in any human endeavour and enterprise (including the arduous prosecution of a complex case like Altantuya’s) is a always a function of the state of preparedness, then it must be said that the government’s chances at prosecution will be maximized if the prosecution were led by a team that had over a year’s preparations – ie DPP Salehuddin Saidin’s team and not some new team suddenly thrown to the ring!

    But alas DPP Salehuddin Saidin was replaced by Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah because he – DPP Salehuddin Saidin – had allegedly been seen playing badminton with trial judge Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin.

    “Concern has been raised that such situation may be construed and exploited to certain advantage by different quarters for whatever purposes that may attract negative perception on the integrity of the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the court and the fair conduct of the trial,” AG Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said.

    To be fair, in the ordinary course of administering justice in courts, it is only human nature that the legal gladiators from both sides – Defence as well as Prosecution – will be desirous of being in a judge’s good books and for this purpose to fraternize with him whether by having breakfast together for small talk or a work out through badminton.

    Owing to the fact that Justice ought not only to be done in the courts but also “seen” to be done, it is of course agreed that a judge should not be seen just before a high profile trial to be fraternizing with either Defence or Prosecution’s lawyers and a Judge should have as much if not more responsibility in ensuring that this public perception of “impartiality” is maintained by not allowing himself to be caught in the situation of being seen fraternizing.

    If however an unfortunate and inadvertent incident of fraternizing as in a badminton game was seen to have occurred, it would be a logical move for any government desirous of winning the prosecution case to recluse the judge and not a well prepared prosecution team instead of the other way around, the logic being simple: a judge does not require any preparation – he is not supposed to have any preconceived notion of guilt or innocence – up to the beginning of the trial, when he then has to hear the evidence adduced and arguments of both sides.

    The same is not true either for the Defence or the Prosecution teams. They have to be prepared well before the trial, studying the implications of evidence and witnesses etc, the longer, the better – the greater the degree of preparedness, the greater the chances of winning and vice versa.

    If the above holds true, then it would be logical to think that the chances of maximizing victory on prosecution’s side lies in the choice of reclusing the judge (whose position does not require prior preparedness before trial) rather than reclusing a prosecution team that has made preparations for the trial for nearly ½ a year – and replacing the prepared team by Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah, who himself expressed surprise that he ( a head of Civil and not Criminal prosecution Division) was entrusted the responsibility at the 11th hour without the benefit of earlier preparation.

    I ask you YB to draw the inevitable conclusion of what might public perception be in such a choice.

  13. #13 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 30 June 2007 - 6:36 pm

    Correction in 4th para from top – “having prepared for it for over 1/2 a year!”

  14. #14 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 30 June 2007 - 6:39 pm

    Same correction in 5th para from top – 1/2 a year preparations.

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