Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s initiative in extracting integrity pledges from his ministers and the state civil servants are well and good, said Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian.
However, Baru, who is state PKR chairman, said it was an indictment of the society’s moral and ethical decay that Adenan 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 (Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohd Morshidi Abdul Ghani) 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,” he said in a press statement yesterday.
Morshidi on Monday warned the state’s civil servants that failure to fulfil their integrity pledge would bring about dire consequences. He reminded them of the integrity pledge they had made before Adenan and that the state government was serious in promoting the value in the civil service.
Morshidi was commenting on the recent alleged graft case in Sabah, where the director and deputy director of the state’s Water Department were found possessing cash, valuables as well as land titles and luxury cars that were far beyond their means as head and deputy head of a department.
Baru said the uncovering of the multi-million ringgit corruption in Sabah had generated a mixture of responses from the public and politicians.
“Yesterday’s (Tuesday) 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, Baru said, the Attorney-General, flying in the face of the facts uncovered by international investigators, had unilaterally declared that the prime minister 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 two civil servants in Sabah can also claim that the cash found was a donation from mysterious benefactors.”
Baru said whilst the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was to be commended for their work in Sabah, there was a need for them to be consistent, adding that 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.”
He pointed out that numerous reports had been lodged with the MACC against the top government officials in Sarawak but up until now, no action had been taken.
“The MACC in Sabah has said that the wealth of the two officers is not commensurate with their salaries. Is the reported RM64 billion wealth of the former chief minister commensurate with his salary?
“When people are not treated equally, people have a right to be sceptical 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.”
Jonathan Chia, firstname.lastname@example.org