For Malaysia to join the ranks of developed countries and to be the tiger of Asia again, it should take corruption seriously, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said. (Pic courtesy from FAM)

PUTRAJAYA: For Malaysia to join the ranks of developed countries and to be the tiger of Asia again, it should take corruption seriously, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

“I think it is about time for Malaysia to join the list of developed and capable countries and let the world know that we are a strong nation that respects democracy and the rule of law,” he said.

In his speech at the Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al Thani International Anti-Corruption Excellence Award presentation he said it was incumbent upon Malaysians to ensure efforts to improve governance and introduce anti-corruption initiatives intended at bringing an end to corrupt practices and abuse of power.

“We are not proud that at one time that Malaysia was described as a kleptocracy.

“We are today pulling all stops to not only remove the tag but also to remind all in Malaysia that corruption is not something to be tolerated. It should be treated with disgust and anger,” Dr Mahathir said.

Also present was Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al Thani.

The Prime Minister said only by reducing corrupt practices could the government and nation move forward.

“Malaysia and Malaysians can only consider themselves developed when they can resist corruption and put a stop to it.”

Malaysia and Malaysians, he said, had made history in its May 9th election when the coalition that ruled since independence was voted out.

“Without doubt, it was the disgust for corruption that led the majority of Malaysians to stand up and vote out the previous administration,” he said, adding that corruption was an awful thing, one that could bring irreparable damage to society and the nation.

“Therefore, it is not the people who engage in corruption who we should look up to, but instead, we should celebrate the people who are working to fight it every day, which is why we are here today.

“The recipients of this year’s awards have done outstanding work through academic research, creativity, lifetime engagement, and innovation in combating corruption in their respective communities.

” I hope our fellow Malaysians can draw inspiration from your works and that it will lead to increased awareness of the importance of having integrity.”

One of the recipients was Nigerian former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Nuhu Ribadu for the Lifetime/Outstanding Achievement award.

He said such award sent strong message to the corrupt and those fighting corruption.

“When you fight corruption, it fights back,” he said, adding he had lost many of his friends in the fight against corruption.

Nuhu was reported to have “taken” US$15 million that was offered to him. But he used it as evidence to nail the perpetrator.

The award ceremony was organised by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Centre (ROLACC) in Doha Qatar with the support of United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The Award is to promote the importance of tackling corruption around the World and encouraging the importance of the decisive measures stipulated in the United Nations Convention against Corruption by collecting and disseminating creative and distinguished related efforts in fighting corruption and present them with awards in a public event.

There are four categories of the award - Anti-Corruption Lifetime/Outstanding Achievement; Anti-Corruption Academic Research and Education, Anti-Corruption Youth Creativity and Engagement and Anti-Corruption Innovation.