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Thursday, March 31, 2011

No magic wand for graft, says Tsu Koon

March 31, 2011

Koh said the Najib administration should not be judged against TI-M’s ideals. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon defended today the government’s record in fighting corruption and cited improvements in the past two years, after watchdog Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) said yesterday that the Najib administration has given “mixed signals”.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, whose portfolio includes the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) that aims to reduce graft, said TI-M should make comments based on what has been achieved since Datuk Seri Najib Razak took over as prime minister in April 2009.

“We cannot judge based on ideal situations but our target is year-on-year improvement. We don’t have a magic wand for corruption,” the minister said.

TI-M president Datuk Paul Low had denied yesterday that parent group Transparency International (TI) had given the GTP a “Grade A,” saying the remarks were made on a personal basis by TI co-founder Michael Hershman.

The local chapter also disputed Hershman’s assessment, stating instead that the government had often sent “mixed signals” in carrying out its policies.

“Although Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced an open tender, sometimes we get a mixed signal. The MRT project, highways are not open tender,” said Low.

Today, Koh said the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), estimated to cost up to RM50 billion, would be subject to open bidding except for tunnelling works that require “specific expertise and experience.”

The senator also said the government has laid down “key groundwork” to fight corruption in the past two years, including laws like the Whistleblowers Act and improving the effectiveness of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

The Gerakan president also said that the government had implemented open tenders via the Internet, amounting to 4,000 projects in the two-year period.

Yesterday, TI-M had also said election handouts were a form of corruption, a charge that invited Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz to tell the body to “shut up and mind its own business” while pointing to a 1981 court case had ruled it was not an offence.

“This country has got a court system and our court has decided long time ago that it is not corruption. I just don’t give a damn about what they say on this. I only refer to the highest court decision which said that it is endowed fund and not bribery,” he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday. - Malaysian Insider

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