C4 lauds royal concerns to fight graft and punish wrongdoers

The Centre to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Centre) welcomes the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V’s expression of displeasure at the continued state of corruption, misappropriation and leakages in the public service, in his royal address at Parliament yesterday.

Such a strong and clear call coming from Malaysia’s head of state is a telling sign of how corruption has become a core and central problem for the country to overcome. In his speech at the opening of the first Parliament session of 2017 this morning, he also complimented efforts to bring the errant civil servants to justice.

The Agong’s strong stance on battling corruption and calling for errant civil servants to face justice has come at a most timely moment and indeed vindicated the recent crackdown by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

It has further encouraged the arduous work of (C4 Centre) and other civil society groups fighting corruption, who have been steadfast in its struggle to bring to the fore the need for the corrupt to face the law regardless of rank and political position, and instil good governance to arrest pervasive corruption. The billions lost to wastage and corruption has outrightly burdened the people with subsidy and budget cuts, and rising costs of living.

In the light of such high-level urgings by the Sultans of Johor and Perak, notably and now the Yang di-Pertuan Agong , C4 Centre urges that -

1. Those involved in siphoning of billions of taxpayers’ funds through the unresolved 1MDB scandal be immediately punished before the law, to avoid a confidence crisis and further plunge in the economy. We urge attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali to immediately allow for the mutual legal assistance (MLA) in order to connect the dots of the complex financial flows, and charge the suspects in this case of massive fraud.

2. For greater protection of whistleblowers whose role is extremely crucial in exposing corrupt practices which is fundamental to curbing corruption in the public sector. It is imperative that a comprehensive whistleblower protection programme be developed to encourage public officials to come forward and lodge complaints without fear of a backlash. The existing Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 must be reviewed with urgency.

3. For an Ombudsman office for good governance to be set up as an effective complaints mechanism, check and balance mechanism and to bring forth a higher standard of scrutiny, transparency and accountability at every level of governance. Clear powers of the Ombudsman office must be backed by a comprehensive law that provides for its effectiveness and independent character.

The Ombudsman’s office ought to replace the Public Complaints Bureau, in order for it to function effectively.

Malaysians deserve a higher quality of public services, and a more accountable leadership, as espoused by the royal leadership and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong himself.