The 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) was meant to the high-water mark of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s six-year anti-corruption campaign and show-case Najib as one of the exemplary global leaders spearheading a transformation programme with anti-corruption as one of its core objectives.
It has however turned out to be the nadir of Najib’s premiership in transparency, good governance and anti-corruption with “two elephants not one in the room”, resulting in the embarrassing and disgraceful last-minute decision by Najib to pull out from officiating at the IACC opening, for fear of “hostile” reception from the 1,000 delegates from 130 countries attending the conference.
Imagine some 1,000 delegates from 130 countries attending an international conference turning “hostile” against the head of government of the host country!
But this is the outcome of Najib’s six-year “anti-corruption” war with a Minister specially appointed to be in charge of good governance and integrity!
Now the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Paul Low, has told IACC that he had advised Najib to pull out from officiating the IACC in case the environment turned “hostile”.
Nobody had known that Paul Low’s job as Minister was to be “shock-absorber” for Najib instead of removing all the “shocks” that can accrue from the failure to have an effective and meaningful anti-corruption campaign.
Is this finally Paul Low’s job specification as Minister in charge of governance and integrity – to enter the lion’s den on behalf of the Prime Minister to absorb all the “shocks” from the failures of the campaign against corruption instead of ensuring a transformation of the anti-corruption campaign which would remove all such “shocks”?
Paul Low had another option – to tell the Prime Minister to honour his commitment to open the 16th IACC with an address which could deal with all the questions and doubts about his government’s anti-corruption campaign or submitting his resignation as Minister in charge of governance and integrity as he would have failed in his Ministerial assignment.
Did Paul Low ever think of such an option? May be not.
Despite expecting a “hostile” environment at the 16th IACC, Paul Low has found that the IACC crowd to be “quite civil”.
It is still not too late for Paul Low to persuade and schedule Najib for an appearance at the 16th IACC, for instance at the closing ceremony on Friday, which is to be graced by another Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Senator Abdul Wahid Omar.
Only Najib himself can address the “two elephants in the room”, the twin financial scandals of RM50 billion 1MDB (according to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in his last speech as Deputy Prime Minister to the Cheras UMNO Division on July 26) and the RM2.6 billion “donation” in Najib’s personal bank accounts.
Let the 1,000 IACC delegates from 130 countries return to their respective countries with answers and assurances from Najib himself on these two mega-scandals instead of departing from the country with one great regret – attending the 16th IACC conference with the theme “Ending Impunity – People. Integrity. Action” ending with greater baggages of doubt and uncertainty whether the global battle against corruption is making any headway at all.