On 24 November 2022, it was finally announced that Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim would assume the premiership as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister. The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) congratulates Anwar Ibrahim on his appointment and wishes him the best in leading Malaysia forward. This comes after agonising days of uncertainty after the results of the 15th General Election (GE-15) revealed that no single coalition had managed to achieve a simple majority, resulting in a hung Parliament.
Additionally, it was also announced that the new Prime Minister would be leading a unity government. This presents a new challenge – never in Malaysian history has there been a unity government. However, it also presents a new opportunity for stability and for good governance reforms to be introduced and enshrined through the mutual collaboration of multiple political parties and coalitions.
As we step into a new chapter of history, it should be stressed that the anti-corruption agenda cannot be abandoned. While a unity government is novel and will likely require leaders to adapt to the changes it presents, good governance practices cannot be sacrificed in favour of “convenience” and “efficiency” or political expediency.
With the novelty of the unity government comes scrutiny – if the administration cannot maintain the trust of the Rakyat or fellow leaders in Parliament, the government could very possibly fracture and break apart. Malaysians simply cannot afford more instability, and certainly not a repeat of the “Sheraton Move” of February 2020. It is in the government’s and the country’s best interests to rule transparently and with accountability as a key component of building back better after the previous administration’s shortcomings.
At his first press conference as Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim specifically spoke on his government’s zero-tolerance stance on corruption and abuses on power, that there would be no compromise on good governance, and stressed the importance of reform.
In line with this, the new government need not look any further than the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) 2019. The guidelines in the NACP provide a comprehensive overview of the areas that require reform, and that would bring Malaysian law and policy closer to fulfilling its obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
C4 Center has long campaigned for certain reforms as a matter of priority and urgency. These include the need for a Procurement Act to provide more oversight over public procurement processes and government expenditure; amendments to the Whistleblower Protection Act that would grant more protection to whistleblowers from persecution, both by public and private bodies; a Freedom of Information Act to allow the public greater access to information relating to government administration, alongside repealing the Official Secrets Act; and an Asset Declaration Act to compel government leaders to publicly declare their business or financial interests. The previous administration also assured that the Political Financing Bill would be tabled soon – there is no reason for the new administration to delay this any further.
The coming months will serve as a litmus test for Anwar’s unity government in assessing their commitment to the good governance and reform agenda – these reforms are to be initiated expeditiously and without delay. In relation to this, C4 Center would like to reiterate our readiness to work with the government and provide expertise or aid in ensuring these reforms are implemented.
Additionally, criminal proceedings have also been opened against former officials charged with abuses of power and using their positions in government as opportunities for self-enrichment – it is of utmost importance that these are allowed to continue without delay nor interference, no matter their political party of origin or any Parliamentary support they may provide, especially in light of Anwar’s decision to hold a vote of confidence for the new government on 19 December 2022.
The above are instrumental in the task of public confidence-building, demonstrating to Malaysians that there is no place for corruption in the new administration, that no one can escape justice, and that support to govern cannot come from patronage and money politics. As always, C4 Center will continue to foster open government policies at various levels of administration through public sector reform and increasing public participation in anti-corruption discussions.
There still remains much uncertainty regarding how we plan to move forward as a nation – Anwar’s Cabinet has yet to be named, and larger questions regarding how the unity government will alter Parliamentary processes still hang in the air. Thus, all the more reason why the government must prioritise good governance reforms – when times are uncertain, a government that steadfastly commits to principles of openness, transparency, accountability, and representative politics will inspire belief in its ability to lead the country.
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Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Center)
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