The fight against corruption has taken a steep incline with the launch of the nationwide blitz by the Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan. With the presence of the MACC Chief Commissioner, Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed and the Inspector – General of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan the campaign looks set to bring about a major transformation in public education and enforcement. The presence of the Attorney General, Tan Sri Ghani Patail would have completed the line-up of the teams responsible for ensuring that the war against graft is concertedly enforced at the highest levels. The campaign cries must now be echoed by the top political leadership and every member of the Cabinet for the public to be convinced of its seriousness!
The exposure and conviction of public servants guilty of graft must take first priority as they are bound by their oath of office to maintain the highest standards of integrity in performing their duties. Integrity subsumes positive character traits such as honesty, forthrightness, trustworthiness, responsibilty, loyalty and keeping to one’s word. It is crucial that these traits are upheld by the people running the government, especially those that enforce the nation’s laws. Only when the government bodies like PDRM are purged of its corrupt personnel will their credibility be reinforced and the work of the MACC be successful. The task of cleaning up the police force was undertaken by the Hong Kong government in the 60s which led to effective and successful anti-corruption drives. The Hong Kong Anti-Corruption Agency is among the most highly respected in the world.
Equally responsible for fighting the national scourge are the Malaysian public whose attitude must change from a high tolerance of corruption to zero tolerance. The socio-cultural phenomenon of giving coffee-money and ang pow for favours granted by those in positions of authority must be stopped. Giving bribes to enforcement officers to avert/ avoid prosecution must be condemned as a criminal act of interfering with the law. It is high time Malaysians take responsibility for the sorry state of corruption and abuse of power in the country. They must transform their own attitudes and thinking before the Government transformation programmes can work. Before pointing their fingers at others they must take a long look at themselves in the mirror!
The anti-corruption blitz must be supported as an important step to educate and inform the people on the multifarious aspects of corruption. What was accepted as the customary practice of inducing goodwill or showing gratitude by giving money or gifts must be replaced by a sincere note of thanks or a simple meal of appreciation. From the ethical point of view this should be seen as the highest show of respect and regard for those in positions of authority.
From the moral angle, bribery and corruption must be highlighted as forbidden and sinful acts condemned by the faith or religion. The message must be relevant to the cultural milieu of each ethnic group. To the Chinese, it can be emphasised that corruption will tarnish the good name of the family and its descendents. To the Muslims, taking and giving bribes must be seen as the highest category of haram, even worse than the consumption of pork. To the Hindus it can be regarded as a sin which will condemn the perpetrator and his family to be reborn into the lowest caste. The recently established Multi-Faith Committee can play a key role in this. Leaders and spokespersons at all levels of Malaysian society must come forth to fight this war!