The MACC Corruption Prevention Advisory Board has recommended to the PM that ‘Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers and their immediate family members take a statutory declaration to declare their assets and records to be kept with the MACC’. Whilst I agree with this proposal, I would further add that Secretaries and all other political appointees staffing the office of Ministers and Deputy Ministers must also be required to declare their assets too. I am told that these are the people that act as ‘gate keepers’ and they would do the ‘negotiation’ first with the businessman prior to them being brought in to see their bosses. There have been talks of such cases in the past, and the recent revelation of secretaries receiving monthly payment from businessman may proof that such allegations are true.
Although the recommendation may sound good and well intended, I however do not believe that it will gain the support of those affected. As at now, there is already resistance from Minister in PM Department Nazri Aziz who felt that Cabinet Ministers and their family members should not submit their declaration to the MACC; rather it should only be submitted to the PM. He went further to say that family members should not be required to declare their assets for this may be dangerous.
Honestly, I do not know what Nazri Aziz means by dangerous. Does he mean that exposing too much of the family’s wealth can be the subject of a public investigation? Why has Nazri Aziz to fear if the declaration is honest, truthful and that the assets are not obtained through corrupt means? If PM Najib does accept Nazri Aziz’s proposal, then this defeats the purpose of being transparent and it would only raise public perception that if the declaration is to be submitted for the eyes of the PM only, then the declaration will be subject to abuse and the details in the declaration will not be honest and truthful. If the PM does accept Nazri Aziz’s proposal, the question asked would then be, “who would be scrutinizing the PM’s declaration?”
Regardless of how the proposal is to be implemented (if ever it is to be implemented), I still believe that the Penang government’s method is the most acceptable for the moment. It even allows the people to have access to the declaration by having it posted in the government’s website. There is nothing to fear if one is honest and incorruptible, and I am quite sure this method will be most welcomed by the people. However, I note that the declaration does not include family members which can be a cause of public mistrust and suspicion.
I would say that corruption among politicians (ministers and deputy ministers included) today is already a household word and is an embedded culture; a cancer of sort. I do not need to justify my statement because it is already in public domain. I do not see any will by the government to eradicate this ‘cancerous disease’ that is well rooted in every nook and corner of the civil service, and in the confines of the offices of some of our political masters. I fear the worse for this country if corruption cannot be uprooted, and if nothing drastic is done, rest assured this bless country of ours is doomed to failure.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION