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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Too bad for Malaysia, says Nazri on CPI drop


The government can do nothing to mend public perception of its poor handling of the PKFZ and VK Lingam scandals, a minister admitted today.

“Too bad for Malaysia, lah,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz said in response to criticisms by Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M).

In its latest report, the anti-corruption watchdog said the government had not properly tackled the PKFZ fiasco and the Attorney-General seemed reluctant to handle the case of lawyer VK Lingam, against whom a royal tribunal recommended legal action after it had investigated allegations that he tried to influence the appointment of judges.

These were among the issues that influenced Transparency International to record an all-time low for Malaysia in its Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2010.

Nazri said both cases were now beyond the administration’s control, with the PKFZ case already in court and the Lingam case in the hands of the Attorney-General who, he claimed, acted independently.

“But of course, in my opinion, there is nothing to charge Lingam with,” he said. “I think his conversation (which was recorded on video) did not influence the appointment of particular judges.

"And there is no element of any corrupt act because he was not caught with money.

"We can't simply charge Lingam just to get an extra 0.1 or 0.2 in our rating point. We cannot do anything about PKFZ because it is already in the hands of the judiciary."

Any interference with the judiciary’s work would only worsen perceptions about the government, he added.

Open tenders

Nazri also pledged that he would push for open tenders to ensure transparency in the government administration, as recommended by TI-M.

"I will certainly raise this in the Cabinet meeting or through the National Key Results Area mechanism,” he said.

“Any direct negotiations should be stopped immediately."

However, he defended Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s recent statement that not all contracts for mega projects could be awarded through open tenders.

"Of course the PM has got his own reasons,” he said. “Probably, he wants to hasten the project. But I think we can overcome this by making (the procurement process) transparent.” - FMT

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