Disease of corruption possibly fatal to country

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Honourable Justice KG Balakrishnan once said "the pervasive culture of graft provokes pessimism about the quality of governance", and turns every social institution upside down.

There is no doubt that corruption causes massive human deprivation and creates income inequalities and forms webs of illegal obligations.

It also impedes protection and promotion of human rights and ultimately violates a very wide spectrum of human rights deeply.

While we realise that corruption destroys nation building, yet there are continued efforts in Malaysia to be lenient when probing powerful and influential politicians.

Additionally, weakness in leadership skills, absence of clear ethical guidance and the absence of severe punitive measures, appear to encourage the commission of corruption.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "The government will never tolerate corruption and will not accept any slackening in the public sector."

He further stated: "Some officers have not lived up to the high standards which people expect of public servants...anyone who breaks the rules will be caught and punished. No cover-ups will be allowed, no matter how senior the officer or how embarrassing it may be.

"It's far better to suffer the embarrassment and keep the system clean for the long term than to pretend that nothing has gone wrong and let the rot spread."

Former Singapore premier Lee Kuan Yew on the other hand, had this to say: "We have succeeded in keeping Singapore clean and corruption free.

"This requires strong political will, constant vigilance and relentless efforts by CPIB to follow up every complaint and every clue of wrongdoing.

"The latest cases are new forms of corruption, with sex being exchanged for favourable outcomes. There is no end to human ingenuity".

India's Minister of State for Personal and Public Grievances, Shri Prthviraj Charan, has said what was needed was an effective preventive strategy.

This can be created and achieved here only if there was a strong political will.

But at the moment, except for the constant lip service, a tactic employed desperately to garner political support and to enhance popularity, there is no genuine and sincere aggressive steps undertaken.

No transformation process can be successful or effective unless we have a free, open and independent media and the present political system continuously reviewed to provide good governance.

And radical changes must be welcomed to establish a transparent and accountable governance in Malaysia.

Merely advocating transparent policies, uniting the people to ensure peace and harmony would not suffice. This in essence are mere political slogans which do not possess long term effects.

It must be remembered according to the World Bank studies, "corruption adversely affects public sector productivity and distributive justice and corruption also increases income inequality, weakens governance and completely reduces citizens trust in effectiveness of their governance".

While corruption and corruption related scandals are nothing new in Malaysia, we as Malaysians must never remain silent nor should condone such deplorable and shameful practices that ultimately destroy the social fabric of civil society.

We must not forget corruption and corrupt practices affects substantially the security and economy of the nation. Further it affects the reputation of the country in the eyes of the world.

It is my considered view that more has to be done to curb corruption in public life and we must always endeavor to establish a corruption free civil service and political leadership and the need to maintain a justice system that is incorruptible.

Corruption and corrupt practices are diseases that seriously affects the peripheral arteries of our democratic process and unless controlled it is capable of permanently disabling the central nervous system of our peculiar democracy.

R KENGADHARAN is lawyer and a former ISA detainee.

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