Hornbill Unleashed

January 21, 2014

New watchdog C4 aims to tackle explosive corruption issues

Filed under: Human rights — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , ,


There is a new anti-graft watchdog in town, and its focus is on public institutions such as the judiciary and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Known by its acronym C4, the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism is co-founded by human rights activist Cynthia Gabriel, part of the team from seasoned rights group Suaram who raised issues about Malaysia’s submarine purchase from France.

Gabriel told The Malaysian Insider recently that scrutinising the judiciary and MACC will form part of C4’s efforts to strengthen public institutions to ensure the corrupt are held accountable.

“More and more people are concerned that the public institutions have failed us and major issues remain unresolved,” she said, citing prominent cases involving the National Feedlot Corporation, Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ), as well as the controversial Scorpene submarine purchase from France.

“Who will account for the RM12.5 billion embezzlement in the PKFZ fiasco now that former ministers Tun Ling Liong Sik and Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy have been acquitted by the courts.  Who pocketed the money in the Scorpene deal?” asked Gabriel.

“And in the NFC case, it was the whistlblower who was dragged to court.”

Others involved in C4 include former vice-chairman of Suhakam Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, Islamic Renaissance Front director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa and former Transparency International executive director Richard Yeoh, alongside prominent personalities as advisors such as Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Edmund Bon, the former Bar Council president.

Fully funded by Malaysian donors, the first phase of C4’s operations will be run by its co-founders and several volunteers.

According to Gabriel, C4 is civil society’s response to corruption which she said is the primary problem plaguing the country.

She said although MACC was entrusted to investigate corrupt practices and individuals, there is not enough being done, especially in probing government and political leaders.

She added that C4 is also a response to the rising cost of living affecting the public.

“We have a situation where certain people in power are having lavish birthday and wedding parties, using government jets for private use and purchasing a RM100 million penthouse in upscale New York,” said Gabriel, referring among others to the birthday party for Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at a 5-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

“At the same time, they are telling the rakyat to tighten their belts to deal with rising costs, so we need to know if these people are living beyond their means and whether taxpayers money are being misused or abused,” she said.

Dismissing any suggestion that C4 might not be well-received by Putrajaya, Gabriel said the group’s intentions were in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s aspirations to combat corruption under the National Key Result Area.

She pointed out that Najib’s seriousness in combating corruption was also seen in the appointment of former Transparency International Malaysia president Datuk Paul Low as  Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, to help Putrajaya in its battle against corruption.

“We urge the ruling government to receive us with an open mind. We see no reason for them to discredit us even before we hit the ground running.”

And to show their commitment in cooperating with Putrajaya to combat corruption, C4 invited Low to attend a forum on January 16 on “Delinking Power and Corruption”, held in conjunction with its launch.

However, Low changed his mind and did not turn up, said Gabriel.

C4 will among others follow up on the Auditor General’s Report which documented wastage of public funds, bad procurement practices and power abuse in the public service.

“We need to improve  public sector accountability and spending,” she said.

On the choice of the group’s acronym, Gabriel said they were “very strategic” in settling for C4.

“We wanted it to be catchy, something people will remember, as it points to a very disturbing mega unresolved corruption scandal in the country and if we leave things to rot away, it is going to lead to a situation which is even more explosive,” she said.

She added that C4, conceived months ago following grouses over spiralling corruption and other misdeeds, was inspired by several countries, including Hong Kong and India.

While Hong Kong used to be a corrupt country, there was now good law enforcement strengthened by the province’s highly successful Independent Commission Against Corruption, said Gabriel.

Citing India as another example, Gabriel spoke about Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Admi Party – a movement of ordinary citizens fighting against corruption – which won the Delhi state elections, with Kejriwal becoming its chief minister.

Gabriel said that despite having famous personalities on its board, C4 could only be successful if it could connect with all Malaysians.

One main thrust of C4, according to Gabriel, is to build mass appeal among various sectors of society, involving the urban middle class, rural folk and peoples of Sabah and Sarawak, where issues of land grab and corruption have taken centre stage.

Gabriel believed that the name C4 itself is enough to set things moving, recalling the name of an explosive “that was used in a scandal” which once rocked the country.


  1. The Singaporeans have the 4Cs i.e. Cash, Condo, Country Club membership and Career

    We Malaysians have C4 !

    Comment by Phua Kai Lit — January 24, 2014 @ 8:53 AM | Reply

  2. Whatever happened to that nice Indians chap who was shot for being too nosey and daring in his search for justice? Hope he recovered well to continue his mission impossible to rid the country of corruption and corrupt leaders.

    Comment by brian — January 21, 2014 @ 1:46 PM | Reply

  3. We must fully support these brave men and women behind the initiative. Corruption is like a cancer eating into our society and by that analogy, we are nearly terminal stage. I’m not so sure if we can save our country but we are already on the brink of bankruptcy due to mismanagement and plundering by the BN leaders and their cronies which is getting from bad to worse.

    Comment by apai — January 21, 2014 @ 1:14 PM | Reply

  4. A brilliant initiative by the founders of c4. This shows that MACC et al are ineffective in their duties. In Malaysian history, no minister or senior government official resign and taking responsibility for any corruption scandal. This is the problem.

    Comment by metamorposis — January 21, 2014 @ 9:18 AM | Reply

  5. Yes, tackle those especially high profile and humongous ones, leave no stones unturned.

    Comment by Sharpshooter — January 21, 2014 @ 8:01 AM | Reply

    • Exhumed the rotten corpses if necessary.

      Comment by Uluman. — January 21, 2014 @ 8:58 AM | Reply

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