By Leven Woon
In the first attempt of its kind, NGO Transparency International – Malaysia (TI-M) today launched its election integrity pledge aiming to convince electoral candidates to ink their commitment to integrity and good governance.
The pledge, a non-binding social contract, require signatories to reject bribe-taking and money politics during their electoral campaign and after they are voted into office.
At the launching of the pledge in Subang Jaya today, TI-M president Paul Low (right) said that the organisation will facilitate platforms through social media so that those wanting to sign on would constantly be under public scrutiny.
“Citizens will monitor their conduct (after they’ve signed), they can even demand a candidate in their area to sign,” he said.
Explaining the importance of the pledge, he said political integrity remains a key hindrance for Malaysia to be a bribe-free nation.
“In Malaysia, there is a high degree of monetisation of the political process, such as vote-buying during general elections or party elections.
“So unless we resolve the perceived political integrity problem of politicians, other areas such as contract procurement won’t be solved easily,” he said
Focus on grant corruption
He added that the monetisation culture essentially sidelines newcomers to politics without the massive wealth but with the heart to serve.
When asked whether such a culture, which is deeply rooted even in a country like the United States, could be easily changed, Low sounded positive, saying it is possible.
“In the US, at least the process is closely regulated, here we don’t even know if someone gives somebody RM5 million to cross over to his party,” he said.
However, Low commended the government for its efforts under the transformation programme to curb graft, saying that there is more freedom to speak on the topic now.
“Petty corruption is not much of the problem, but the issue that the country is dealing with now is grand corruption involving many top decision-makers,” he said.
The pledge requires signatories to observe the principle of integrity, uphold and priortise the rakyat’s needs, practice good governance and comply with all applicable laws of Malaysia.
The pledgers must also give their addresses and phone numbers as well as disclose whether or not they have facebook or twitter accounts.
Intending candidates for the forthcoming polls could start signing the pledge, Low said, as the NGO’s website at timalaysia-electionpledge.org.my has been activated. – Mkini