“PKR veteran urges unity gov’t to spearhead anti-corruption efforts”

THE battle to reduce corruption levels is a long, hard-fought effort that will not just end with the prosecution of former leaders but will continue until it is more systemic.

PKR veteran Jason Ong Khan Lee stressed that the people need to get behind the unity government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to fight this scourge, which has become part and parcel of society, no thanks to previous administrations.

With rising living costs, the tendency to rip people off is more pressing, he said.

“Anwar needs more friends than foes in fighting corruption. There would be ups and downs and the people must understand that there is a need to produce prima facies (guilty beyond reasonable doubt) in courts to prosecute the wrong doers.”

Finding evidence takes time, especially if the corrupt have means to hide their ill-gotten gains – it may take generations, the former Kebun Bunga assemblyman stated.

Corruption is evil and like any other temptation in life, it is embedded and impacts the conduct of every society, regardless of whether the nations are developed or not, Ong said.

Ong also pointed out that the people must buy into the effort to fight corruption by first not becoming the givers nor the takers in any illegal transaction.

It can help if the country enriches its people by inspiring them to underscore meritocracy through hard work, sacrifices and the never-ending quest for knowledge, he added.

Ong was responding to the recent debate over the partial pardon of the now imprisoned former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak for his alleged role in the global 1Malaysia Development Bhd money laundering scandal and for former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin for not declaring his assets despite an order from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Moreover, he noted that there is no pleasing everybody when it comes to the scale of the punishment, as the former leaders have their fair share of supporters and detractors.

“Some will support and some have their rights to not. Importantly, the country benefits from any deterrent action against the corruptors.”

Ong further added that every nation is fighting corruption, it is just the level of success they can achieve, including in China and South Korea.

He cited both nations as examples, saying China took decades to fight it before the Middle Age Kingdom emerged as the second biggest economy in the world.

“Korea impeached and jailed its former president to illustrate that corruption can even occur in a highly disciplined society.”

In China, state media reportedly cited the fact that a former high-ranking Chinese general has been sentenced to life in jail for corruption in recent years.

People’s Liberation Army former chief of joint staff Fang Fenghui was found guilty of bribery and having huge wealth that he had been unable to account for.

The 67-year-old accompanied President Xi Jinping in his meeting with US president Donald Trump in 2017.

Many officials have been jailed in what Xi says is an anti-corruption drive.

Only through tough action can a nation send a message that corruption is the root cause of a decaying society, Ong said, adding that the examples in other countries can embolden MACC to act without fear and favour against the guilty, said Ong.

According to Ong, the fight against corruption needs 100% effort from everyone.

“There is no halve – effort to fight it. We must be total and principled.” – Feb 11, 2024


John Chin is a former journalist. 

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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