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“Top must be clean to wipe out the scourge of corruption” – Ramasamy

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COMMENT BY YB PROF DR P.RAMASAMY, DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER II, PENANG

Top must be clean to wipe out the scourge of corruption

Getting to the roots of corruption is not just about having the right laws, anti-graft agencies or engaging in campaigns or moral persuasions. It is about having the right leadership with zero tolerance against the dastardly phenomenon.

As they say, if the top leadership is corrupted or disinterested in wiping out, there is no way to stop the rot. One the head becomes rotten, then there is no way to stop the spread of the gangrene.

All the right laws and procedures might not be useful in combating corruption, but they might be rendered useless if the top leadership is ineffective. Government agencies are important, but they invariably are subjected to influences from the top.

Agencies combatting corruption very often than not come under the control of those who exercise executive power. These agencies against corruption can be made effective, if they are made accountable to the legislature, say the parliament.
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But this is not enough.

Ultimately, the top leadership must take the responsibility in the war against corruption. Some years back, a judge in India presiding over massive corruption case said that corruption cannot be just eradicated by having laws, anti-graft agencies or engaging in moral persuasion, but by having leaders who are incorruptible.

In Malaysia, there is no need to pretend to accept the sad fact that government leaders have compromised on the question of corruption. In fact, they might say one thing in the public but do some other things in private.

In the past as well as the present, it the lack of clean and transparent leaders that the fight against corruption and other financial misdeeds has been seriously compromised. How can corruption be eradicated when the leadership is unashamedly focussed on being ethnic and religious champions.

It is not that deserving individuals from an ethnic or religious group cannot be rescued from poverty and misery. However, if race and religion are used to benefit the elite, then it not too difficult to see why the eradication of corruption will be problematic.

The difficulty in addressing corruption is tied closely with the lack of clear vision on the part of leaders as how to steer the country in the direction of the future.

There is no sense of what the future might hold for the people as leaders are just narrowly bent on taking the country from one election to another.

It is essentially politics of survival.

The notion of grabbing even a straw to keep afloat in the turbulent waters of politics has seriously consumed the ethnic and religious champions.

The crusade against corruption, financial scandals and other misdeeds have become secondary to the question of political survival.

It is all about muddling through in the dark waters of politics.