23 September, 2010

Opening Ceremony of ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initative for Asia and the Pacific 10th Regional Seminar: Criminalisation of Bribery


1.         Foremost, I would like to thank the MALAYSIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION, ADB and OECD for kindly inviting me to officiate   the 10th Regional Seminar of the ADB/OECD Anti Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific. I would also like to thank the Secretariat of the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific for choosing Malaysia as the venue for this seminar.

2.         On behalf of the Government of Malaysia, I would like to welcome all participants and speakers to Malaysia. I am heartened to see so many participants from Asia and the Pacific countries attending this important seminar. It clearly reflects the commitment of member countries in fighting corruption. I believe the objectives of this Initiative will eventually be achieved, should all of you continue to demonstrate the commitment that you have shown, so far.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

3.         Since her independence in 1957, Malaysia has been very serious about combating corruption. Our founding fathers had the foresight even then, to realize that combating corruption was not only a moral imperative but a prerequisite for national survival. At the outset we have put in place the necessary though embryonic legal and institutional infrastructure to weed out this scourge. Three different and disparate organizations were involved in fighting this menace, the Royal Malaysian Police was charged with investigating the crime, the Attorney General’s Chamber prosecuted while the Prime Minister’s Department was entrusted with crafting the preventive eco system.

4.         Since then, periodic reforms have been made in order to cope with its’ increasing sophistication, trans-boundary nature and our domestic and international obligations. Building upon these commitments and Malaysia’s entry as a state party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2008 the government had initiated major structural and legislative reforms to better meet this threat against our national security fabric.

5.         As a result The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission was set up, its’ capacity and capability strengthened while a host of new measures and offences were established in the governing legislation. These changes were introduced with the objective to effectively enhance the investigative and prosecuting processes while increasing transparency and participation by civil society.

6.         Since the introduction of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, statistics have shown a manifold increase in the volume of information received from the public, in the number of investigations initiated, arrests made and prosecutions conducted. This marked increase in the level of public involvement is indicative of their increasing trust and confidence in the efforts of the Government through the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in combating corruption.

7.         I trust the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, under the present stewardship of Dato’ Sri Abu Kassim is able to realize the vision of the Government and the expectations of the “rakyat”.

Ladies and Gentlemen

8.         The Government has set up the Malaysian Integrity Institute in 2004. The purpose of this institute is to inculcate the values of integrity and ethics in all aspects of national life. It is the Government’s belief that prevention and education should be given equal attention alongside enforcement in the fight against corruption.

9.         Malaysia has also collaborated with international organizations in setting up of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy, which serves as a regional training centre for or the Asia and Pacific region. This centre provides courses for capacity and capability building for personnel in combating corruption.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

10.       Today, when one speaks of the criminalization of corrupt acts, it is not merely criminalizing the offence of giving and taking of bribes or the abuse of position. It includes criminalizing the proceeds of the crime of corruption and bringing to book corruptors, swiftly. Studies reveal that corruptors tend to hide themselves or their ill-gotten gains in foreign jurisdiction. The denial of safe haven for corruptors and their proceeds of crime are vital in any strategy to combat corruption.   Herein, lays the importance of international cooperation

Ladies and Gentlemen,

11.       Legislation or international initiatives on mutual legal assistance, extradition and anti-money laundering will only be effective if countries come together to mutually help. One must bear in mind that corruptors thrives on the lacuna in international cooperation to protect themselves and their ill-gotten gains.

12.       Seminars like this would be useful venue to address differences in legal and evidential requirements of countries in the areas of mutual legal assistance, extradition and anti-money laundering in order to reduce bureaucracy and red tape.

13.       As part of our commitment, the Government in 2009, introduced a new approach in transforming the performance of the Government. It focussed on the 6 National Key Results Areas (or NKRAs), identified as being the most important areas for the benefit of the people and progress of the country, namely:

1.         Reducing crime

2.         Fighting corruption

3.         Improving student outcomes

4.         Raising living standards of low-income households

5.         Improving rural basic infrastructure; and

6.         Improving urban public transport

14.       The GTP (Government Transformation Programme) Roadmap sets out in detail the specific commitments we have made to fight corruption as well as key initiatives designed to enable us to deliver on these commitments. These initiatives were borne out after deliberations, involving about 250 top civil servants and representatives from the private and social sectors. The Cabinet and top leaders of the civil service have since spent a significant amount of time monitoring progress and challenges faced in the running of the programme.

15.       Under this programme, 3 key areas have been identified for NKRA Corruption where actions need to be taken:

a)         Regain the public’s confidence in regulatory and enforcement agencies

In order to improve the perception and confidence of the public regulatory and enforcement agencies, each of these agencies have now set up compliance units. The compliance unit will ensure that officers are monitored and adhere to procedures in the conduct of their duties, reducing opportunities for abuse of power. In addition, other initiatives such as job rotation for “hot spot” positions is gradually being implemented, to reduce the build-up of entrenched relationships and hence the opportunity for corruption.

In addition, a public database of convicted corruption offenders, on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission website, has been up and running since 4 March 2010. The database currently lists [192] offenders that have been convicted since the beginning of the year. This enables potential business partners, employers or other members of the public to have an easy reference base for those who have committed bribery and corruption while acting as a strong deterrent, by adopting a “name and shame” approach.

b)         Reduce leakages in government procurement

Transparency is a key weapon in combating corruption and the Government has come that there was a lack of transparency in the area of Government procurement to that end, the MyProcurement information portal, was launched on 1st April 2010, to provide stakeholders easy access to information on certain procurement processes and decisions. This portal discloses certain details of Government contracts awarded on open tender, such as the type and value of the contract, and the successful vendor.

Initially Integrity Pact between Government and vendors regarded as an important measure to enhance transparency and to ensure clarity within all parties involved, Ministry of Finance has issued directives on Integrity Pact on the 1st April 2010. The elements of Integrity Pact directive comprises of official invitation to participate in tender or quotations, declaration of abstention from bribery, formulation of code of conduct and contractual provision to abstain from bribery.

c)         Tackle grand corruption

Here the Government has issued directives instructing public officers how to treat “support letters”, or any attempts to influence the decision making process, in areas ranging from procurement to licensing or permit approvals. All decisions must proceed on the basis of merits and in the public interest. This will hopefully reduce the ability of persons to abuse their position for private benefit.

16.       In 2007, the Government established a high-powered task force to address bureaucracy in business-government dealings. This initiative was needed to effect greater improvement in the way the government regulates businesses. One of the terms of reference of this initiative was to review and enhance the public services delivery system in terms of processes, procedures, legislation and human resource. An inefficient public delivery system is conducive to corruption.

17.       The Attorney General’s Chambers has also worked tirelessly to augment the Malaysian legislative framework by introducing the Whistleblower Protection Act. This Act is particularly pertinent to the effective investigation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, as it is an Act designed to encourage and facilitate disclosures of improper conduct in the public and private sector and more importantly to protect persons making such disclosures from detrimental action.

18. Corruption as we all know is a ‘crime without boundaries.’ International cooperation is imperative in any country’s strategy towards combating corruption. To that end, the presence and unfailing commitment of international bodies like the ADB /OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative cannot be underplayed in helping a country achieve zero –tolerance towards corruption. On behalf of the Government of Malaysia, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the ADB OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative and other international organizations who have lent their time, zeal and effort in assisting Malaysia in her quest to combat corruption

Ladies and gentlemen,

19. This seminar is a good platform to exchange knowledge, network and share experiences in combating corruption. I hope all participants will take this opportunity to enhance the level of knowledge and experience for the betterment of our work in combating corruption. I wish you all success in your endeavours.

20. Lastly, do take some time from your busy schedules to enjoy the spirit of Eid Mubarak that we are presently celebrating. With praise to the Almighty Allah, I declare the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific’s 10th Seminar on the Criminalisation of Bribery open.

Thank you.

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