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Mahathir’s “turning  the table” against the Prime Minister  on the issue of corruption marks  the nadir of Abdullah’s campaign against corruption in his three-year premiership


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Monday) :  In the CNN Talk Asia interview last night, former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said corruption has now become a very big problem.


Although Mahathir’s CNN Talk Asia interview must have been pre-recorded before Mahathir’s mild heart attack on Thursday, it was a significant event as the former Prime Minister had “turned the  table” against his successor, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who had made the campaign against corruption his personal trade mark and  the major point of difference between the present and former  premiership.


Mahathir’s “turning the table” on the issue of corruption therefore marks the nadir or lowest point of Abdullah’s  campaign against corruption in his three-year premiership.


Something is very wrong about the Abdullah premiership that the former Prime Minister can now  surface as a spokesman against the rampant corruption in the present administration  – with many Malaysians agreeing with Mahathir although they have not forgotten that the former Prime Minister has still to fully account for the era of corruption, cronyism and nepotism which he had presided over for 22 years.


Abdullah made a very impressive speech as Umno President at last year’s Umno General Assembly, where he declared that “the Government’s war against corruption will not be successful if Umno itself has a culture of corruption”.


Unfortunately, like all his other sweet-sounding speeches and slogans, absolutely nothing has been done to eradicate or even address the “culture of corruption”, as illustrated by recent scandals involving Umno politicians.


What will Abdullah  say or promise about the scourge of corruption  in his Umno Presidential address  at the Umno general assembly on Wednesday – more empty words or will he just skip the subject altogether, although corruption is now generally regarded as even worse than during the Mahathir premiership?

This sad state of affairs has been confirmed by Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2006 because of its five-ranking plunge for Malaysia from 39th last year  to  an unprecedented 44th position  – or seven  places below the 37th ranking in 2003 when Mahathir handed over the premiership to Abdullah.

One big issue all Malaysians and in fact the world will be watching at  Abdullah’s third Umno General Assembly speech as Umno President is whether he is going to salvage his reputation as the Malaysian Prime Minister most committed in the war against corruption or whether he would allow Mahathir to steal his anti-corruption banner for which he had been given the biggest electoral  mandate of over 91 percent parliamentary seats in the March 2004 general election.

Abdullah’s silence on the issue of corruption and his failure in the past three years to make any impact  the war against corruption, in fact, going backwards as illustrated by the 44th placing for Malaysia in the TI CPI 2006, would tantamount to an ignominous  end to  Abdullah’s campaign against corruption.

There are three things Abdullah  can  and must do to  urgently to salvage his anti-corruption campaign from losing all credibility before it is too late, viz::

  • Convening special Cabinet meeting and holding a special Parliamentary debate on the scourge of corruption and TI CPI 2006;

  • Setting a leadership example of being “clean and seen to be clean” by giving satisfactory responses to integrity allegations whether involving himself on the United Nations’ Iraq  Oil for Food scam  involving billions of ringgit, his son, Kamaluddin over Scomi government contracts or his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin over ECM Libra share acquisitions by setting up an independent public inquiry to deliver independent verdicts;

  • Remove ACA from under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Department and elevate it into an independent agency answerable only to Parliament.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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