ORDINARY Malaysians do not need to be lectured on the importance of controlling corruption and countering its devastating impact on the country.
Ordinary Malaysians know that to have any hope of a truly prosperous and secure future for the country and themselves, the government needs to deal with corruption. And the people have been clamouring for it for the last decade or so but nothing has changed.
The rakyat want the government to deal with this problem, every bit as much as they want the government to tackle issues like poverty, housing, transport and rising prices.
The people want the law to be upheld and the corrupt to be punished, with justice and recompense for those who have suffered.
Unfortunately, national efforts to this end have often been weak or absent.
Anti-corruption and good governance have become an often-repeated slogan.
If the government continues to hide from this problem, the country will never ever break out of the slide into obscurity that we are facing now.
There is so much hesitation in raising this issue in the country.
For too long it seems to be taboo for politicians and civil servants to speak up on corruption.
For too long it has just been too easy for those in authority to ignore or pretend not to know what is going on.
As you can see, when the country fights the corruption scourge, it fights back, with great ferocity.
It obviously has greater resources than the authorities.
Those accused view it as a matter of life and death.
Many of the most common forms of corruption in the country now revolve around the government’s ability to create artificial scarcities through licensing or regulation. The decision for the National Farmers Organisation and Angkatan Koperasi Kebangsaan Malaysia Bhd to go into poultry and corn farming, with the aim of producing 174 million birds a year to address the chicken shortage crisis is one clear and recent example.
Placing tariffs on imports restricts imports and generates rents for the government. And this resulted in a mushrooming of corruption among enforcement agencies, which is quite common globally.
As we are well aware, corruption in the country holds us back from growing, costs the country billions, traps the poorest in the most desperate poverty as corrupt politicians siphon off funds and prevent hardworking people from getting the revenues and benefits of growth that are rightfully theirs. It steals vital resources from our schools and hospitals as corrupt individuals and companies evade the taxes they owe.
When 129 jurisdictions commit to implementing the international standard for exchange of tax information on request and 95 jurisdictions committed to implementing the new global common reporting standard on tax transparency, there was much hope that the level of corruption would be reduced substantially.
Domestically, section 56 of the Companies Act 2016 on beneficial ownership – who really owns and controls companies – was introduced.