Coverage by: Sinar Daily
KUALA LUMPUR – A prominent economist today urged Putrajaya to carry out amendments to outdated legislative, structural and institutional laws if it was serious about curbing corruption.
Dr Edmund Terence Gomez highlighted that the problem lies in the top-down concentration of power with ministers at the helm, which enables political appointments.
This is followed by government-linked companies (GLCs), statutory bodies and special vehicles.
Level three comprises public listed companies followed by unlisted companies at level four and level five includes joint-venture companies located both locally and abroad.
The C4 chairman said the unity government, which was elected eight months ago could amend some of the “low-hanging” laws to strengthen checks and balances within the civil service, government institutions and statutory bodies.
“Some are low hanging fruits (laws that can be amended immediately). Why the delay?
“Why isnt’t reforms happening when our prime minister is a reformist,” he said in his almost three-hour talk titled How Corruption Rots Malaysia.
The talk was organised by Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4).
Gomez, the anti-corruption campaigner said that the root cause of corruption lies within the state structure, where political elites hold significant control over public governance, concealing their actions behind various forms of corruption.
The types of corruption still prevalent are patronage (allows political actors to appoint individuals to positions of power or authority based on personal connections or political allegiance, rather than merit), cronyism (favouritism), nepotism (preferential treatment to family members), rent seeking and slush funds (money set aside by an organisation for discreed payment to an influential person).
“These varieties of corruption is getting complex, constantly evolving and still occuring within the institutional framework designed to protect the political elites from disclosure,” he said.
Gomez pointed out that as a result of the pervasive corruption and the hidden control of political elites, some of the policies put forth by the government merely remain as rhetoric.
While these policies may appear to address corruption on the surface, in reality, they often end up protecting the interests of politicians, enabling potential abuse, particularly during times of crisis.
“There is still no laws banning beneficiaries from giving ‘side payments’ for projects,” he said, adding that these money could be from money earned from companies set up by statutory bodies, government schemes and GLCs.
Due to that, he said some of the key concerns are control over GLCs at different levels as seen with allegations with Felcra and Jana Wibawa, a programme to aid the poor and SMEs.
He said transparency within statutory bodies was needed to ensure there were no shell companies set up to hide illicit transactions.
“The statutory bodies are under the parliamentary select committees (PAC) but once they set up companies or layers of companies, it will no longer be under PAC,” said Gomez.