THE World Bank and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) have declared corruption as “public enemy number one."
Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank Group President, declared this in Washington on 19 December, 2013.
Dzulkifli Ahmad, the then Chief Commissioner of MACC, made this declaration in Kuala Lumpur on 13 September, 2017.
Corruption was securitized as a threat at the global level and in Malaysia.
This is because securitization is defined by Barry Buzan, Ole Waever and Jaap de Wilde, in their : A New Framework for Analysis (1998), as an act of declaring an issue “as an existential threat, requiring emergency measures and justifying actions outside the normal bounds of political procedure."
A state should combat corruption through extraordinary operating procedures (EOP) after it was already declared as an existential threat.
However, there are four rules to securitization, to deter state elites abusing it for their regime survival.
But, a research by Ruhanie Ahmad (2018) discovered that the administration of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (1981-2003) conducted securitization in the interest of Malaysia’s political stability and economic prosperity.
In the first rule, it must have a “speech act” or triggering justification to urgently declare an issue as an existential threat.
In the case of corruption in Malaysia, the MACC discovered that corruption had threatened most of the country’s enforcement agencies and had caused a huge loss to our national revenue.
The second rule, it requires referent objects. In the case of corruption, they are “the entire machinery of government, including its executive, administrative and judicial bodies, and the laws, procedures and norms by which they operate”.
The referent objects to corruption in Malaysia are the government’s stability, national interests, core values and survival, financial standing, economic development, and the well-being of the citizens.
The third rule, it requires executive actors who are the prime minister or the president as chief executive of national security, and the state’s relevant security agencies.
These actors have full authority in finalising and implementing securitization approaches to combat a threat.
Securitization also has secondary actors comprising interests groups, professional organizations, NGOs and political parties.
But, they have no executive power to implement securitization strategies.
The primary securitizing actors on corruption in Malaysia are our Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the MACC.
The non-executives actors include the ones mentioned in the above, as well as the Parliament and the media.
The fourth rule, it must have audience to legitimise it. In Malaysia, this comprises the people and government agencies. The legitimacy of a securitization in a democratic state, however, could also be derived from parliamentary decisions, news reports, as well as opinions of the public, NGOs, interest groups and political parties.
Based on these rules, the MACC securitized corruption and abuse of power in Malaysia in 2017, because this scourge “have been found in all sectors of society” and had cause loss to Malaysia’s revenue.
As an example, a study by MACC in 2011, discovered that corruption in one of Malaysia’s enforcement agencies had caused an estimated “RM108 billion” of potential revenue missing every year, and “RM10 billion” were illegally transferred abroad.
The MACC also discovered that “drug and human trafficking, leakages in government funds, gambling, financial fraud, prostitution and turf wars are growing due to corrupt practices and power abuse among enforcement agencies that are entrusted with the powers to uphold the law”.
The BN government at that time was adamant to these realities.
Hence, several NGOs, interest groups, professional bodies and political parties reinforced the above securitization by the MACC, when allegation involving 1MDB scandal heightened in 2018.
This denoted they conducted a “bottom-up” securitization act on corruption, abuse of power and kleptocracy related to the alleged 1MDB scandal.
However, they have no executive authority to prescribe the remedy to these scourges. Hence, disenchanted Malaysians legitimised the above securitization through their majority votes against the BN in May 2018 General Elections.
The above was a testimony that PH had securitized corruption while it was still in the opposition camp. Therefore, it is appropriate for PH to focus on it today.
The only hitch, PH did not immediately embark on executing its EOP to combat this threat.
Dr Mahathir’s recent appointment of Latheefa Koya as the MACC’s new Chief Commissioner, is the first action by PH government to combat graft through EOP.
This move is in accordance with the rules of securitization because Dr Mahathir is Malaysia’s chief securitization actor.
He has the prerogative to unilaterally pick the right person for the job of eradicating graft.
Therefore, it is pertinent for Malaysians to support this appointment. Opposing it is counter-productive to PH's political survival, the country’s financial and economic reforms, as well as Malaysia’s national security.
—— The writer was a member of parliament for Parit Sulong in Johor from 1990 to 2003.