10 DECEMBER 2020
“Corruption is an enormous obstacle to the realisation of all human rights,”– former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay
As we reach this time of the year, where two days earmarked by the United Nations to stand side by side each other – World Anti-Corruption Day (Dec 9) and World Human Rights Day (Dec 10), the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) strongly forewarns that the worsening corruption in our country has great ramifications on the human rights of her people.
Entrenched corruption has eroded trust, defeated the rule of law, hampered economic development, and further exacerbated inequality, poverty, social division, and the environmental crisis, all of which are grave human rights concerns.
It has been a turbulent time for Malaysia since the previous general elections. Not only did Malaysia see her people raising their voices in anger over various public corruption scandals including the grand 1MDB theft of public funds, and a fleet of other scandals, it eventually led to the fall of the indefatigable BN administration during the 14th General Elections, which saw several once powerful politicians knocked down and eventually charged in court for corrupt practices.
While the monumental change was supposed to herald a time of better anti-corruption and human rights reforms and transparency in government, this did not come to pass. An internal political coup which saw the PH government dethroned and the PN administration established, just days before Malaysia felt the first of Covid-19, shattered any hope that the rights of the people would be prioritised.
Horse-trading among politicians for positions of power, with MPs being appointed as heads of major government-linked companies, deepening the nexus between politics and business became a reality. The state governments in Kedah, Perak, Malacca and Johor fell, and another failed power grab triggered the Sabah elections, which caused the third wave of Covid-19 to run rampant in Malaysia.
The coup also saw several high-profile corruption cases involving millions of ringgit fizzle out, with notable cases such as the discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) of Najib Razak’s stepson, Riza Aziz on five counts of money laundering over US$248 million, former Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman’s abrupt acquittal of 46 corruption charges, and former Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s DNAA over his RM1 million corruption case.
The importance of independent institutions that are not beholden to the government, that accountability and transparency can well and truly be enforced, as well as the need for transparency in public participation, a necessary component which maintains a check and balance over those in power, has been shattered.
For public participation and independent institutions to be able to truly fulfill their role as check and balance mechanisms, there must be access to pertinent information, that conclusions can be drawn logically, backed by evidence and data.
As such, C4 Center challenges this unelected administration to put word to deed once and for all, and state its stand on the reforms needed to protect the rights and safety of all citizens, to table immediately in Parliament for the establishment of a right to information law, and a stronger Whistleblower Protection Act, which would serve to protect those who report corruption from unsavoury repercussions.
Above all, there must be strong political will from all parties to genuinely roll out anti-corruption and human rights reform efforts.
The journey towards a Malaysia free of corruption, where the nation is an open and better place, requires so much more political will. We urge that the realisation of that Malaysia does not remain a pipe dream.
Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Center)
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