Pakatan Harapan-Broom to Sweep Malaysia Clean

Partyforumseasia: The Pakatan Harapan or Coalition of Hope suffered a setback by losing an important by-election last weekend, which actually gave an opportunity to the opposition UMNO to develop new hope in turn. See the previous post

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (93) is killing two birds with one stone simultaneously by launching a wide-ranging National Anti-Corruption Plan yesterday, 29th of January. It shows him as a reformer and highlights the endemic corruption of the former government. His only eight months old new government is facing the unpleasant task to clean up the gigantic swamp of graft and corruption which served the former dominant UMNO party to rely on quasi-unlimited political funding. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak was simultaneously Finance Minister. With a rather hybrid entity, called Ministry of Finance Corporation, he could control a  huge network of Government Linked Companies (GLCs). But what was all too visible for the voters and finally broke his political neck was the growing evidence of criminal manipulations within the state-owned Sovereign Wealth Fund 1MDB with billions of dollars disappearing in black holes.

As laudable and timely as the National Anti-Corruption Plan is, some Malaysians remember Dr. Mahathir’s money politics in his first 22 year-long term as Prime Minister until 2003. Yet, the concept of eradicating corruption in Malaysia within the next five years and the planned reform measures sound convincing enough.

The most important points are as follows:

– New laws on political funding for politicians and political parties will be introduced.

– Review appointment procedures for key government posts.

–  Politicians and high-ranking civil servants will have to declare their assets.

– The credibility of the legal and judicial system must be enhanced.

– Corporate governance needs reform.

Ex-UMNO-President Najib Razak, facing a slew of graft charges, is still maintaining his innocence, and even may not be completely wrong in a technical sense because political funding has been totally unregulated in Malaysia so far.

The just-published Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by Transparency International does not show any dramatic changes for Southeast Asia in comparison with the previous years. With rank 61 out of 180 countries, Malaysia is still ahead of most other ASEAN countries. Obviously, the 1MDB saga has not really affected the result.

For more details about political funding and money politics in Malaysia see:

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