The government's anti-corruption campaign is the most intensive ever
CORRUPTION, and the inequalities and injustices that flow from it, was undoubtedly a factor in the Arab Spring. Those who risked life and limb in Tahrir Square, Cairo, among the masses in the rest of the Middle East, were fed up with the wrongs of the Mubarak regime's decades-old dictatorship. Nearer to home, the same can be said for the toppling of Indonesia's President Suharto in 1998. Rampant corruption and abuses of power made for a disquiet that few ordinary citizens could take, especially on empty stomachs, and tolerable to even fewer of the middle classes. While Malaysia never faced the same level of unhappiness, the prime minister recognised corruption's ill effects on society and the economy as he generated a comprehensive policy that would address it in holistic fashion. Graft-busting was elevated to a priority of considerable importance.
The government of Datuk Seri Najib Razak has made fighting corruption an integral part of the two-pronged National Transformation Policy (NTP). A National Key Result Area (NKRA) high on the list of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) -- one half of the NTP -- the effort is spearheaded by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Armed with a carefully structured strategy, the MACC is tasked with being seen to eliminate all corrupt practices. Towards this end, three facets have been forwarded: judicial reforms that include a special anti-corruption court to facilitate prosecution; an Integrity Pledge and Integrity Pact from both government-linked companies and private companies; and, public education. The MACC, an independent body, works with the people, the private sector and other stakeholders to achieve the desired end. Both hard and softer approaches have been incorporated into the anti-corruption crusade.
On the one hand, the rigorous Integrity Pact acts as an incentive for companies to abjure kickbacks when bidding for government contracts by giving them a shortlist advantage. On the other, so as to encourage those individuals with knowledge of acts of corruption to come forward, the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 was enacted. Crony relationships will be broken by competition. The sum total of these, part of the three pillars against corruption, is that all parties benefit, a fact manifest in the World Bank's "Doing Business Report" that has ranked Malaysia ahead of major Western economies as a country where doing business is easy. For the population, no corruption means no economic leakages and a fairer allocation of resources all round. However, what is most pertinent is the government's political will that has set in motion a relentless mechanism to end corruption in high and low places alike.