Pandora Papers: PM Ismail Sabri must act to stop the rot

If the PM fails in this most crucial responsibility, then he should be held accountable

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Why do these individuals need to hoard billions of ringgit in offshore banks?

The Pandora Papers have unearthed a humongous outflow of cash, reportedly in the billions, deposited in offshore banks – allegedly by our politicians, former national leaders and their families, and several high-profile individuals.

In the current Parliament sitting, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim requested the Speaker to debate the Pandora Papers in view of the staggering amounts of cash involved and the high-profile individuals listed as owning accounts in offshore banks.

Unfortunately, the Speaker appeared indifferent towards Anwar’s request, prompting the latter to accuse the Speaker of acting in defence of the high-profile individuals named in the Pandora Papers.

Although there are no laws barring individuals from having offshore bank accounts overseas, the revelations of high-profile individuals and their unexplained funds raise questions about their integrity.

The public are rightly alarmed about the contents of the Pandora Papers. People are asking why these individuals need to keep their billions in offshore banks? Are our banks not safe enough?

Patriot recognises the public have grown sick and tired – they are utterly fed up – of the endless cases of corruption reported daily. Of growing concern is that those within the ranks of the civil service are also increasingly guilty or alleged to be dabbling in corrupt practices.

Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, the Malaysian civil service was reputed to be the best in the region. One wonders what has become of the civil service today.

The number of corruption cases reported daily involving individuals with titles and honorifics, including those holding prominent positions in government, has left the public with no alternative but to cast serious doubts. Public trust in almost every government ministry, department and agency is sinking to a new low.

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The recent report of three Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers who were alleged to have stolen cash retained as an exhibit, with one of them reported to be involved in drug smuggling, alarmed many. This news has undoubtedly brought the nation’s anti-corruption agency into disrepute and shame, leading to a crucial loss of confidence and trust in the agency.

Now, who do we trust when the very agency entrusted to be the watchdog against corruption is itself allegedly involved in such a dastardly criminal act?

Patriot believes we cannot leave the fate of the country in the hands of politicians. Likewise, the reputation of the civil service is so soiled that even letting them manage the day-to-day activities of governing the country is deemed high risk.

The first step towards rescuing this sinking nation is for the PM to empower the public to act – with the freedom and safety – and to speak up against any wrongdoing by government officials. And the people must not be threatened, intimidated or coerced by any authority when doing so.

Tackling the rampant, deeply rooted corruption in the country requires a revolutionary approach if the PM is serious about saving this nation, especially after he began his appointment by announcing a “keluarga Malaysia” (Malaysian family).

Patriot therefore encourages NGOs and civil society groups to actively monitor the day-to-day activities of government officials, particularly those who manage and approve contracts.

Political appointees in ministries were known to be prone to corrupt dispositions. It is time their activities are closely monitored by the public.

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There have also been allegations in the past of some appointees acting as gatekeepers and accepting bribes from contractors.

It is time for Parliament to appoint an ombudsman to monitor all operatives without fear or favour. This ombudsman should be granted full powers to investigate complaints against any administration of government.

No ministry, department and agency must be allowed to conduct ‘in-house investigations’ into cases of corruption and abuse of power by any of its officials. Such a practice would be plain hogwash, as proven by the Pandora Papers.

Patriot urges Ismail Sabri Yaakob to take full control of the ministries and all government officials, especially when the nation is fighting threatening battles on two fronts, namely against the pandemic and the dire state of the economy.

Ismail Sabri must not fear taking punitive action against non-performers, regardless of their status – even if it involves ministers and deputy ministers. This is not the time to seek popularity or peddle party priorities, but a time for action to save the nation from going down the cesspit and getting lost in oblivion.

This nation belongs to all citizens – past, present and future. Its wealth must not be hoarded by a few, nor its vineyard raped and exploited by parasites on the gravy train.

Patriot has renewed its fight against corruption in all forms at all levels and will not hesitate to act accordingly to help the prime minister engage in a war against the corrupt at all levels, within and outside the government.

If the PM fails in this most crucial responsibility, then he should be held accountable.

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Retired Brigadier General Dato’ Mohd Arshad Raji is president of the National Patriots Association (Patriot)

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