Thursday, April 26, 2007

Corruption causes poverty, says McKinnon

The Star

Get rid of corruption and bad leadership and poverty will become history, Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon said yesterday.

Noting the obvious link between poverty and corruption, he said:

“Corruption is public enemy No.1 to the two things we hold dearest in the Commonwealth – democracy and development.”

“It tends to be the poor who suffer most, it leads to children without adequate schooling, and to people of all ages without adequate healthcare.”

McKinnon was speaking at the third anniversary of the launch of the National Integrity Plan and the establishment of the Malaysian Institute of Integrity.

In his speech titled The Cancer of Corruption: The Ideal Integrity, he referred to the expressions duit kopi (coffee money) in Malaysia and du the (some tea) in Mauritius, saying they implied that corruption “doesn’t really matter, its only small change, no one gets hurt”.

“But corruption is much more. Amongst other things, it is bribery, nepotism, kickbacks, shady dealings, cartels and rigged elections,” he said.

During the question-and-answer session, fellow panellist Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said he would be looking at the Attorney-General’s Chamber’s study on having a Whistleblower’s Act soon.

Asked whether the Anti-Corruption Agency could be placed under a Parliamentary Select Committee, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said it would be not be fair.

“In an all-party parliamentary committee, the Barisan Nasional would get 13 seats, one for each of its coalition parties. Also, as we are strongly affiliated to our party and we tend to make decisions along party lines.

“I want to be frank, if a matter is raised in Parliament and the Opposition says they want a minister brought before a committee, I would say ‘yes’ because I know I would be acquitted because of the majority we have.”

Earlier, in his paper, Nazri said Malaysia aimed to improve on its score of 5.0 (in TI’s Corruption Perception Index) last year to 6.5 next year.