New Malaysia can’t tolerate corruption

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & SHAZNI ONG/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

A NEW Malaysia will not materialise if the federal administration continues to tolerate corrupt practices in both the public and private sectors, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The prime minister (PM) said it was the people’s wish that the new government would uphold good governance, integrity and rid the country of corrupt practices and power abuse.

“These demands were the results of the manner how the previous administration had conducted its affairs. They ignored the high values and in turn, they were rejected by Malaysians who could not stomach the blatant abuse of power and corruption.

“It is during that period that financial crimes were committed brazenly and blatantly without regard to all the laws and regulations.

“The highest power entrusted to defend these laws was the very one who was committing them,” Dr Mahathir said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Dr Mahathir also warned that the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV 2030) would fail if Malaysians did not choose transparency and accountability.

“I used to say that previously corruption was an ‘under the table’ act and it was a scourge to our nation’s future.

“But in the last few years, corruption had become an ‘over the table’ act and committed openly by the top leaders. Others will then do the same without fear.

“From an act viewed with disgust, it became acceptable and, not long after, those who do not participate would be considered stupid. It reached a level (that corruption) had almost become a lifestyle and cash was heralded as the new King,” he said.

Dr Mahathir had earlier launched the Malaysia Financial Intelligence Network (MyFINet), a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative between Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Securities Commission Malaysia, law enforcement agencies and financial institutions to combat financial crimes.

Dr Mahathir said the PPPs would be more effective in detecting suspicious transactions by financial institutions and other reporting institutions.

Central bank governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said the PPPs were vital as it allowed the financial intelligence unit, law enforcement agencies and reporting institutions to leverage on intelligence-led collaboration and information sharing to detect financial crimes and terrorism financing.

“This will further support the investigation and prosecution processes. For Malaysia, our goal is to formalise and further deepen what we have built over the years,” said the central bank head.

Nor Shamsiah said reporting institutions must accelerate efforts to beef up their anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) toolkit to deal with new and emerging risks.

“At our end, BNM is in the process of reviewing our AML/CFT policies. A key outcome of this review is the move of our regulatory framework towards being more risk-based and principles-based.

She also said regulators are exploring whether to introduce a cash transaction limit to complement the existing measures.

“While new to Malaysia, many other countries such as France, Italy and India have already implemented it. This measure will further mitigate the abuse of cash by addressing the ease of conducting high-value cash transactions.

“Even with the rise of electronic payments, we cannot wash over the fact that criminals still prefer cash because it is widely accepted, anonymous in nature and untraceable,” she said.

The central bank lowered the daily cash threshold report (CTR) from RM50,000 to RM25,000 in January. Up to September, over five million CTR reports had been filed, representing cash transactions valued at RM483 billion.

The number of CTRs had nearly doubled after the lowering of the limit.