History should not repeat itself; kleptocrats cannot be allowed to rule

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WONG SOAK KOON/ALIRAN

Malaysia is once again dragged into a political crisis.

Betrayal and political interests have caused the Perikatan Nasional government to collapse in the same way they had caused the Pakatan Harapan government to collapse one-and-a-half-years ago.

This time, the situation is far different from during the days of the Sheraton Move. Today, we are faced with a pandemic that is raging and has no signs of slowing down, with new variants emerging. Our economy is shattered, our healthcare system collapsing, and lives are being lost every day, including people dying from poverty and mental breakdowns. Our country is in a critical emergency situation.

Now that the country’s top job is up for grabs, and members of Parliament are required to send in their choice for prime minister to the palace by 4pm, the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) is gravely concerned that politicians would be motivated by the promise of ministerial positions, appointments to government-linked companies and cash in trying to form the next government. Here again, we would see history repeat itself after one-and-a-half years.

If this was to happen, and the next government is formed on this basis, we risk becoming a failed state in the coming years due to incompetent leaders leading our country once again. What is even more worrying is that there is a real possibility of kleptocrats coming back to power and meddling with ongoing court cases. This would be a devastating outcome for our country.

Malaysia now needs politicians who are competent and with high integrity to lead this country out of the crisis we are facing. This has never been so important as the incoming government would have an enormous task of building this country back up from every aspect and responding effectively to the national health emergency that we are facing.

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C4 Center calls upon the political leaders of this country to learn from their past mistakes and take the correct steps to save this country. This is a chance for them to reclaim lost trust and reshape the country’s future together.

To ensure we make it through this crisis and emergency our country is facing, C4 Center makes the following calls:

  • All political parties and leaders in Malaysia should keep in mind the suffering Malaysians are going through right now and the pandemic our country is facing. Every negotiation and political alignment being made right now must place the interest of Malaysians at the highest level
  • The government and cabinet must be inclusive, comprising equally of the various ethnic groups in Malaysia. It is timely and important now as, for our country to succeed, we need to move away from race-based politics and policies and appoint highly qualified and competent politicians to lead the various government ministries
  • Any political alignment and manoeuvre taking place right now must not result in those facing trials in court coming back into a position of power. This is important as those that stole public funds and abused their positions must be held accountable and punished for their crimes against this country and her people. We also cannot afford to have these politicians in control over our country’s finances and assets in this time of emergency, when these resources need to be responsibly used to help the people and drive our economy back up

The new incoming government must, while responding to the health and economic crisis that we are facing, take urgent measures to carry out 11 key reforms that are much needed now in our country. These reforms would be key to driving Malaysia out of the health, governance and economic crisis that we are facing today.

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The urgent reforms would include:

  • Halting political appointments in government-linked companies and statutory bodies and allowing highly qualified persons to lead these. The use of politically linked foundations to carry out projects for the public using public funds must be stopped. Instead, these funds should be channelled to government agencies on the ground to cater to public needs
  • Reforming Parliament and bringing back the Parliamentary Services Act. This is crucial as Parliament must be allowed to provide checks and balances on the executive
  • Passing an asset declaration law. The wealth of members of Parliament must be tracked to ensure unexplained wealth is accounted for and that they are held accountable for it
  • Passing a political funding law. Political parties must be free from business influence in shaping policies for this country, and vested interests must be declared. Donations to political parties must be accounted for and made public to also ensure that public funds are not swindled for political purposes, such as in the case of 1MDB
  • Separating the office of the attorney general and public prosecutor. This will ensure that the public prosecutor’s office can work independently without the executive’s influence
  • Reforming the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. The MACC must have structural protection from governmental control or dictates. For this, the government must create a constitutional commission to be beyond the scope and control of the executive and ensure the independence of commissioners serving the commission and their security of tenure. Funding for the MACC must also come from Parliament, proposed by a bipartisan committee and passed by lawmakers
  • Reforming the whistleblowing law. It is imperative to have a good protection structure for whistleblowers to encourage them to come forward and blow the whistle on malpractices and abuses of power
  • Reforming the government procurement system. The government must pass a public procurement law and ensure a high level of standards in the procurement system. These reforms should take place in tandem at the procurement systems of both the state and federal levels. The reforms must ensure that quality services are provided to the public and that cronies are rooted out
  • Reforming the civil service. The civil service needs to be overhauled to ensure a better public service delivery system. Our civil servants must be trained and upskilled to provide services to the highest standards. This is important now as they are the frontliner workers carrying out government policies in driving the country out of the crisis we are facing
  • Passing the independent police complaints and misconduct commission bill. The police must live up to the highest standards and they must be governed strictly. Cases of a abuse of power, corruption and deaths in custody must be stopped. This can only be done if they are held accountable for their actions
  • Ending political appointments as a form of buying loyalty and the giving of rewards
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It is imperative for the 11 reforms above to be carried out urgently as soon as the government is formed. In fact, every discussion taking place right now between political parties and leaders must put these key reforms on the table for discussion, and they must be committed to carrying out these reforms.

We remind politicians that Malaysia cannot afford a misstep in direction at this moment. Any wrong alignment would cause Malaysians to pay a huge and heavy price. We are facing a challenge like never before in our history. It is time for all of us to come together now and save our country. – C4 Center

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