When corruption chokes, we fight it

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We hope that corruption will one day be a thing of the distant past.

When the public and the government are in unison, the corrupt have no choice but to run for cover, writes Subarshini Ramakrishnan.

Malaysia filed criminal charges against 17 current and former Goldman Sachs Group Inc … over their handling of the sprawling financial scandal at state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. – Wall Street Journal

Seeing folks with Armani tuxes and Rolex watches facing the harsh reality of their crime would send a strong message to Malaysians and show how serious the new government is in bringing suspected white-collar criminals to justice.

Between 2009 and 2014 at least $4.5bn (RM19bn) was allegedly stolen from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. The infamous scandal that brought Malaysia into the global spotlight not only shocked the country but also sparked disbelief around the world over the sheer audacity of the culprits.

Many more corruption suspects need to be charged and indicted before we can see any improvement in the Corruption Perceptions Index for Malaysia.

Jim Yong Kim, the former World Bank president, once declared that corruption is every country’s number one enemy. His view resonates well with Karl Kraus, who said: “Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.”

The move to stamp out corruption must be a top priority of the Pakatan Haparan government. The government must create awareness among the people that they are protected when they report any wrongdoings.

Despite the existence, of the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, we all know the fate of whistleblowers under the previous regime. The arrest and persecution of Xavier Justo is still vivid while the perpetrators were riding high due to their unlimited power. Justo was vilified and jailed, his persecution trumpeted in the mainstream media.

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To wipe out such images in the public mind, the new government must douse the fear. People need to be assured that they are protected and their safety is the priority of the PH government.

The government must work towards a clean administration and use the mainstream media to convey the message of good governance. A guidebook for making complaints must be made available to the public.

To instil greater awareness, politicians and others should hold campaigns and seminars across the country. Billboards that scream anti-corruption slogans should be placed at strategic places to show how serious the government is about the fight against corruption.

When the public is convinced that the authorities are earnest in purging corruption, they will be more likely to come forward to report malpractices.

However, before the public is empowered, the government system must be overhauled. There is no point in people reporting cases if they fizzle out in the hands of lackadaisical or corrupt government officers.

What can be done to create an efficient and competent government body? The number of civil servants now stands at a whopping 1.7 million. With such a huge number of civil servants, the government has all the personnel it needs to be combat corruption.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission needs more resources than any other government institution at the moment. More civil servants should be positioned in the MACC.

But MACC officers must have squeaky clean records. They must be carefully handpicked as the commission should not have any chink in its armour.

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Armed with a dedicated team, investigations can be quickened and verdicts delivered quickly. Fast and efficient proceedings will send a strong message to the public that if they do commit any crime, they will face swift punishment. The wheels of justice have to move faster because “justice delayed is justice denied”.

When the public and the government are in unison, the corrupt have no choice but to run for cover. The responsibility for change not only with the new government but also with the person in the mirror.

Rise o, countrymen and knock the corrupt people out
Make them realise that this is their fate and possible route
Nothing can now save them from public ire and wrath – Nidhi

Subarshini Ramakrishnan teaches literature at a private college. She recently attended an Aliran writers’ workshop with the theme “Writing for Change in New Malaysia”.

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