Published: 18 June 2015 10:00 AM
Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism director Cynthia Gabriel says the prime minister must return to his promise of breaking traditional divides between the government and its people. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, June 18, 2015.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has violated his 2009 pledge to commit to greater transparency after he urged civil servants yesterday not to expose government secrets, anti-graft group the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) said.
C4 director Cynthia Gabriel said issues unrelated to national security should not be kept under wraps from the public, and pointed to Cabinet discussions on proposed toll hikes, Lembaga Tabung Haji's purchase of land from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and Putrajaya's purchase of a new jet.
"C4 condemns Najib's latest harangue targeted at civil servants to obey their secrecy oath and keep their mouths tightly shut over government secrets.
"How contradictory his words when he assumed power in 2009: 'We believe in open politics, in increasing participation, embracing greater transparency and improving the state of democracy.
Najib had also said: "We now have technology that supports a much wider and deeper range of public involvement in policy-making, with ‘open source government’ and open data breaking down traditional divides."
She said Najib must return to his promise of breaking traditional divides between the government and its people, if he wished to regain any semblance of legitimacy and credibility.
"He must show genuine commitment in breaking the information asymmetry that has contributed to unbridled power imbalance, and not just pay lip service to improving integrity and accountability in the public sector."
She said fighting corruption relied on an environment of accountability and openness, and encouraging a culture of whistle-blowing.
Wrongdoing and suspicious financial activity should no longer be shielded, she said.
“Najib must show that he is sincere in building a culture to combat corruption, and not encourage wrongdoing to fester behind the veil of secrecy."
She said the "culture of secrecy" was entrenched in Malaysia and strengthened by statutory barriers, which encouraged impunity in the public sector.
"C4 believes that secrecy has served a powerful tool in government, incubating negligence and misconduct as a result, and ushered in corruption unabated.
"We only have to look at the periodic auditor-general’s report findings to remind us constantly that this culture is so deeply embedded in our administration."
Yesterday, Najib urged civil servants not to leak government secrets, a week after news broke that Putrajaya was mulling a hike in toll rates for 16 highways. – June 18, 2015.