Wednesday, October 12, 2016

BARU BIAN: THE WORTH OF THE INTEGRITY PLEDGE


PRESS STATEMENT
12 OCTOBER 2016

The uncovering of the multi-million ringgit corruption in Sabah has generated a mixture of responses from the public and politicians. Yesterday’s Borneo Post carried the opinions of several individuals as to whether the corruption scandal would have an impact on Sarawak and its politics, and highlights the civil servants’ integrity pledge.

Without a doubt, the case definitely has an impact on the perception of the government by the ordinary person. One could say that nobody is surprised anymore about unfolding corruption scandals – after all, the top leader of this country is mired in what the international press dubs the world’s biggest financial scandal. Almost every day, the international press discloses 1MDB-related developments in the foreign countries such as the USA and Switzerland whose institutions are implicated in the scandal, the latest being that Singapore has shut down the bank involved.

However, in Malaysia, the AG, flying in the face of the facts uncovered by international investigators, had unilaterally declared that the PM was innocent. Why then should we be surprised that civil servants and politicians follow the practices of their leaders, when it appears that corruption is acceptable by morphing into a ‘donation’? As the popular saying goes, ‘the fish rots from the head down’. Perhaps the 2 civil servants in Sabah can also claim that the cash found was a donation from mysterious benefactors.

The current Chief Minister’s initiative in extracting integrity pledges from his ministers and the state civil servants has been lauded by many. Integrity pledges are well and good, but it is an indictment of our moral and ethical decay that the CM should require ministers and civil servants to sign such a pledge. Integrity is an innate and inherent trait that an individual either possesses or does not. Signing a pledge does not imbue a person with integrity if he or she does not already have that trait. That the State Secretary should have to issue a warning, much like a teacher threatening schoolchildren, does not bode well for our confidence in ministers and other civil servants.

Whilst the MACC is to be commended for their work in Sabah, there is a need for them to be consistent. The law must be applied to all, irrespective of position and political leanings. In Sarawak, let us not bury our heads in the sand and suffer the short-term memory syndrome – we have our share of corrupted politicians and civil servants. The only difference is that they have not been exposed, for whatever reason. The banned news portal Sarawak Report carried a wealth of information about corruption in Sarawak, before switching their focus to exposing the 1MDB scandal.

Numerous reports had been lodged with the MACC against the top government officials in Sarawak but up until now, no action has been taken. The MACC in Sabah has said that the wealth of the 2 officers is not commensurate with their salaries. Is the reported RM64bil wealth of the former CM commensurate with his salary? When people are not treated equally, people have a right to be skeptical of the motives for actions that are being taken. The law must be applied across the board, and not selectively.

Of integrity pledges, this truism holds fast: actions speak louder than words.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan

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