THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is on a nationwide campaign to get the public and private sectors to pledge their commitment to zero corruption.
Previously called the Corporate Integrity Pledge, the now voluntary vow has been renamed Corruption Free Pledge and MACC has been on a roadshow nationwide to persuade government agencies, state governments and private companies to sign the pledge.
It is imperative for the country to crack the whip on corruption as decreed by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V when opening the fifth term of the 13th Parliament at the Dewan Rakyat recently. His Majesty had expressed his disappointment as misappropriation, corruption and leaks of confidential information involving civil servants and former civil servants still persist.
MACC, on its part, has responded, making a slew of arrests involving public servants with the latest arrest of a Johor executive councillor over a housing and land scandal in the state.
Earlier this month, Negri Sembilan became the latest state to make the pledge to become corruption-free and expressed its commitment to serve the people to the best of its ability.
Negri is the fourth state in the country to make such a pledge after Sarawak, Kedah and Malacca. Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said the state was committed to ensuring that the state machinery at all levels was clean to win the people’s confidence and support.
“Rest assured, this pledge will ensure that Negri Sembilan is clean and corrupt-free, making it the core of our policies across all levels of the administration from the very top to the very bottom,” said Mohamad while leading his executive council members during the oath taking.
He said prior to this, numerous agencies and departments in the state had made similar pledges but this is the first time that the apex of the state administration was doing so.
It is important for Negri Sembilan, and all states for that matter to make such a pledge to ensure that the faith, confidence and support of the people are preserved.
Rampant corruption will have a negative effect on any administration and its impact can be far- reaching. Bear in mind, corruption will also lead to leakages and wastage of funds, which are originally meant for the people.
MACC Chief Commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad said the graft-busting agency could not do it alone and needed the support of the people, as well all state governments, to nip corruption in the bud because if not, the hopes of the people would be dashed and their trust in the administration would be betrayed.
“This vow will instil a sense of ownership and responsibility,” Dzulkifli said.
On MACC’s part, this is a good effort to foster close relations and beef up existing collaborations with state governments and eventually make them corruption-free.
In fact, all public servants should take the pledge as these are the very officials who receive information from the public and, thus, the temptation is very high, enticing some officials.
Thus, it is the responsibility of all state governments to eradicate the scourge as history has proven in the past that corruption can bring down empires and governments.
As for Negri Sembilan, the state administration will stop working in silos and go down to the field more, to offer the best services to the people.
The state has also identified that too much bureaucracy and red tape are the leading causes of corruption.
This is because the red tape or “checkpoints” provide the perfect opportunities between the public servant and the applicant or the customer to “settle” the matter before the transaction moves on to the next step.
The Negri Sembilan government has also found that less interaction between public servants and customers in the state can lower the corruption rate.
Towards this end, the state is going all out to boost its online applications such as e-complaints, e-payment and others.
This is the state’s information technology policy and standard operating procedure, and all steps must be adhered to by everyone who has dealings with the state government. If an applicant fails in one of the steps or processes, the whole transaction will be rejected.
Negri Sembilan received a lot of investment proposals from local and foreign investors, and it sometimes welcomes foreign trade missions.
The state government has changed all that by laying out all the investment guidelines on its website for investors as part of its endeavour to become transparent and corruption-free.
The writer, a former assistant news editor of ‘Business Times’, is NST’s Negri Sembilan bureau chief