The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) congratulates our Executive Director, Cynthia Gabriel for receiving the Anti-Corruption Champions Award 2022 and being recognised as an Anti-Corruption Champion by the United States’ State Department! The award this year is given to eight honorees who have demonstrated “leadership, courage and impact in preventing, exposing and combating corruption”. This award ceremony also coincides with the celebration of the International Anti-Corruption Day which falls on 9 December every year.
Cynthia is the founding Director of C4 Center, having founded the organisation in 2014 during the administration of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose time in office was wracked by corruption scandals. Under her leadership, C4 conducted investigations into many high-profile corruption scandals, such as the procurement of Scorpene submarines from 2008, that led to the indictment of high profile individuals in France, the 1MDB case, and more recently, the procurement of littoral-combat ships (LCS), to name a few. C4 Center also took the lead to map the connections between politicians and the abuse of charitable foundations as well as the nexus between business and politics.
Additionally, C4 Center has also long advocated for institutional reforms in promoting good governance, transparency, and accountability – when Pakatan Harapan came into power in 2018, C4 was one of the stakeholders involved in the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) that laid out recommendations such as amending the Whistleblower Protection Act, repealing the Official Secrets Act, enacting a Procurement Act and Freedom of Information Act, amongst many others. These recommendations, as well as others such as calling for reform of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), remain a core part of C4 Center’s advocacy work.
However, Cynthia’s efforts were not met without resistance. She recalls the “the pain, treachery of the powerful, intimidation and harassment to silence her and her colleagues with fear.” Cynthia has been brought in and questioned by authorities on numerous occasions simply for speaking truth to power and exposing the dark underbelly of the business-political nexus.
Indeed, this speaks to the link between corruption and human rights. When corruption is allowed to proliferate and when institutions are unable to provide oversight, those in power who engage in corrupt practices for self-enrichment use their power to suppress anyone who would speak up against them. In ensuring a corruption-free nation, the right to freedom of expression and freedom of information must be protected.
Today being Human Rights Day and also the day after International Anti-Corruption Day as decreed by the United Nations General Assembly, we reflect on how corruption affects human rights is more pertinent than ever in the wake of recovery from a pandemic, a general election after unstable governments, and an economy on life support. We have seen how the selfishness and greed of political leaders have led to worsening and inadequate healthcare and welfare systems – the biggest losers in a corrupt system are always the most vulnerable.
“The new unity government faces many challenges including upholding good governance, and we urge that civil society becomes an important component in fighting the scourge of corruption,” Cynthia said in her acceptance speech.
Cynthia Gabriel and C4 Center at large stand ready as ever to assist the government in bringing about a country free from corruption and patronage politics.
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Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Center)
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