KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — During the tabling of Budget 2023 on 24 February, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim pledged to fight corruption, which was met with enthusiastic support from MPs in Parliament.
He highlighted ongoing investigations into suspected corruption by government agencies such as the Inland Revenue Board (IRB), the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), and the police. Referring to Malaysian politicians named in the Pandora Papers, Anwar said investigations are ongoing for those involved in corruption.
“We shouldn’t be threatened and scared because we are merely exposing corruption. The government of the day has to send a clear message that corruption and wrongdoing cannot continue in this country,” Anwar stated, prompting the sound of MPs thumping on their desks and cheering.
Anwar had earlier urged Malaysian authorities to investigate the crimes exposed by the Pandora Papers and not to take them lightly.
Anwar emphasized that corruption and embezzlement were pervasive and systemic in Malaysia, resulting in a decline in good governance and damaging the country’s reputation. The decline in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from 29 in 1998 to 61 was cited as evidence of this decline.
RM3 billion in losses due to leakages, irregular payments, and waste of public funds
The Auditor General’s report 2020 and 2021 revealed that there were leakages of almost RM3 billion (approximately 676 million USD), covering the loss of public money, waste, and even irregular payments.
Transparency International Malaysia attributed the decline in good governance to the failure to curb political corruption.
“In addition, there were also leakages in the implementation of diesel subsidies, with an estimate of almost RM10 billion worth of diesel subsidies misappropriated last year,” Anwar stated.
Anwar: no more direct negotiation
Anwar announced that the government would cancel flood mitigation projects worth RM15 billion and Jana Wibawa projects worth RM7 billion that were awarded through direct negotiation. These projects will be re-tendered, with the immediate re-tendering of six flood mitigation projects, the latest by June 2023.
He emphasized that high-impact projects that benefit the people should be implemented through the tender process to ensure their success.
These projects involved the flood mitigation project in Sungai Johor, Kota Tinggi; the construction of a retention pond for flood mitigation and raw water supply in Sungai Rasau and Sungai Klang, as well as the development of a unified river basin for Sungai Golok (Phase 3) in Kelantan.
“We must decide what we want for the future of the country,” Anwar concluded.
“This is the evidence of the various trends that have a negative impact on the country. This must be stopped if we want the country to move forward bravely and gloriously.”