Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said voters in Bagan Pinang should choose wisely and pick the candidate who would be best able to serve them because the seat would not affect the Negeri Sembilan state government. However, service to the people is not limited to drains, roads and money but also in establishing political morality, integrity in administration and CAT(competency, accountability and transparency) governance.
The choice of BN and UMNO candidates for the two by-elections of Permatang Pasir and Bagan Pinang shows that for BN, winning power at all costs is the only criteria for leadership. Private scandal, public misconduct or issues relating to money politics and integrity are irrelevant as long as victory is assured.
Both MCA and Gerakan who have been talking about upholding public integrity, political ethics and morality should explain how they can support the problematic BN candidate for Bagan Pinang who does not fulfil these standards but is involved in money politics. Or does MCA and Gerakan practice double-standards by requiring high standards for internal party fights but not when it comes to UMNO?
By choosing a candidate for Bagan Pinang who was suspended by UMNO for money politics and described by former Prime Minster Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as unsuitable, BN and UMNO has shown that public integrity and fighting corruption is not important.
No wonder, Malaysia’s ranking in the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International’s(TI) has spiralled down from No. 37 in 2003 to NO. 47 in 2009. This has serious implications because it impedes economic growth, efficiency and performance. TI’s Global Corruption Report(GCR) 2009 concluded that this illustration of the Malaysian government’s inaction in the light of the serious corruption allegations, along with its seeming inability to catch the big fish instead focusing on the ‘small fry’, suggests that what anti-corruption efforts exist are mere tokens.
PEMUDAH, the government’s special task force to facilitate business, citing a World Bank study, estimates that corruption could cost Malaysia as much as RM10 billion a year – an amount equivalent to 1 or 2 per cent of GDP. PEMUDAH notes Malaysia spends only RM5 per capita or less than RM 150 million annually on anti-corruption efforts.
Losses of 1% to 2% GDP growth rate or RM 10 billion in losses from corruption per year is a huge sum and would undermine if not cripple Vision 2020 of achieving developed nation status. To achieve developed nation status by 2020, Malaysia needs to grow at an annual rate of 8% from 2010 until 2020. This is impossible under the current crisis and the fact that Malaysia has for the past ten years, averaged at a growth of only 5%.
Even a 6% annual growth rate from 2010, may allow Malaysia to achieve developed nation status by 2030. To have a chance of becoming a developed nation by 2030 with an annual GDP rate of 6%, corruption must be eradicated to save the RM 10 billion annually to release the extra 1-2% GDP.
There are savings from fighting corruption. The Penang state government through CAT governance saved 12% of the 2008 Penang state budget amounting to RM 36 million from operating expenditure. The success of CAT governance in fighting corruption and establishing integrity has been acknowledged by TI in this year’s Global Corruption Report 2009 which said,
“Penang state has introduced several measures to improve the regulatory environment with regard to government procurement, in what is referred to as a CAT – a Competent, Accountable and Transparent – government. It is the first state government to implement the open tender system for government procurement and contracts. As an example, in civil works, contractors are able to bid in an open tender process and to review the successful contractors and object if they are not satisfied. Furthermore, the Penang government has issued a directive whereby all administrators and state executive councilors are not allowed to make any new land applications. It has also invited professionals to serve on various boards, such as the Penang State Appeals Board, and has established a Working Professional Committee comprising individuals from five different professional bodies to improve land procedures.”
It is not easy to gain recognition from TI. BN tried for 51 years without success. We feel humbled in Penang that PR succeeded in gaining recognition from TI after only 18 months! Perhaps BN and UMNO has given up on establishing integrity by choosing problematic candidates involved in money politics.
This is the corruption differentiator between BN and PR. Where PR fights corruption, BN embraces it. Where PR punishes corruption, BN condones it. Where BN practices “good at one feet, but evil at one yard” whilst DAP and PR believes that “evil at one feet, good must be one yard”!