In his speech at the Utusan Business Awards 2015 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre last week, the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah Muizzuddin, said stern action must be taken against corruption and law enforcement agencies should carry out their tasks without fear or favour. He stressed that failure to prevent corruption from spreading in the country, would cripple the country and its people.
“Corruption, is a form of cancer that is spreading in the spine of the country and it must be tackled effectively by the government. Corruption is like termites eating into the main pillars of the country. Truth and law must be upheld at all times. Our responsibility to Allah and to the country should be prioritised instead of prioritising any group or individual,” Sultan Nazrin said.
The Ruler urged Malaysians to inculcate a culture to hate corruption and reject leaders involved in corrupt practices to build a nation of zero corruption where the people are taught to have disgust for corruption.
Sultan Nazrin’s speech was in reference to the Corruption Perception Index 2015 by Transparency International in which Malaysia is ranked 54th out of 168 countries ? a position that has declined four rungs compared with the 50th spot of 175 countries in 2014.
Earlier in October 2014, Sultan Nazrin also proposed a holistic approach to combat corruption in conjunction with the 47th anniversary celebration of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA)/Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
His Highness said, corruption is a breach of trust. The first sin committed by man is breach of trust. The first decree of sin by humans is breach of trust, which is stated in verse 115 of Surah Taha which means:
“And We had already taken a promise from Adam before, but he forgot; and We found not in him determination.
“And We said, O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat therefrom in [ease and] abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.” ? Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 35.
And in surah al-Anfal verses 27-28 Allah has given a reminder:
“O believers, do not betray Allah and His Messenger by leaving out what they commanded you. Deliver trusts to their owners, and do not go easy with the rulings which Allah ordained for you to organise your conditions, but perform them as they should, for you know the bad consequences of sins.
“O believers, know that your properties and children are just a test for you from Allah to see whether you shall obey Him and thank Him for or you show miserliness and be busy with them and with the adornments of the world?
“However, Allah has the great reward for those who show sincerity, preferred His Satisfaction, and abided by His Limits.”
According to Transparency International, corruption is defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.
“Corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law. It leads to violations of human rights. It erodes public trust in government. It can even kill – for example, when corrupt officials allow medicines to be tampered with, or when they accept bribes that enable terrorist acts to take place,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the inauguration of the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative in September 2007.
While many countries are blessed with Earth’s most valuable resources which can be economically profitable, corruption creates a major setback. If there is no willpower to put an end to corruption, it can greatly hinder the progress of economic growth and destroy developing countries.
In 220 BC, the Qing Dynasty in China had imposed heavy punishments on those involved in corruption. Today, according to Chinese law, a person convicted of taking 100,000 yuan (RM63,153) or more in bribes will face the death penalty and life imprisonment.
In 2013, China’s former minister of railways Liu Zhijun was sentenced to death for accepting 64.6 million yuan (RM40.8 million) in bribes between 1986 and 2011 and using his position to help 11 people win promotions or lucrative contracts, according to the state news agency Xinhua.
Meanwhile, 62-year-old Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, was sentenced to death by a court in Beijing for taking bribes to approve untested medicine on July 10, 2007. He was convicted of taking cash and gifts worth more than 6.5 million yuan (RM4.11 million) when he was in charge of the food and drug agency.
Last year, Chinese authorities have made an extensive crackdown on government corruption, which has already ensnared hundreds of thousands of officials in the People’s Republic, according to China Daily.
More than 70 government officials and their family members went on prison tours in China’s eastern Hubei province as a warning against corruption, speaking with prisoners, including 15 former government officials who are serving their prison sentence.
Malaysia has also shown determination in fighting corruption. The MACC Bill to ensure transparency in the appointment of judges and strengthening the anti-corruption initiative was passed in 2008, during the reign of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The move restored the public’s confidence in the judicial system and proved the government are serious to fight corruption and strengthen integrity in the country.
The government is on track in fighting corruption and has charted notable progress with initiatives like the Integrity Institute of Malaysia (IIM), aimed at developing a nation that is of high integrity, resilient and that embraces universal good values. This is followed by the MACC that detects the risks in corruption in practices, systems and work procedures and to advise on the likelihood of occurrences of corruption, and not forgetting the Judicial Appointments Commission Malaysia (JAC) to improve the constitutional method of appointing the judges of the superior courts.
To further enhance their commitment against corruption, MACC has provided a more interactive statistic report and improved with a quick search in Corruption Convicts Information data archive, displaying pictures of corruption offenders on its official website, to educate the public on corruption issues and improve the confidence of the public in the commission.
National Key Results Area (NKRA) Against Corruption director Datuk Hisham Nordin had explained that revealing the names and pictures of corruption offenders is not an offence as legitimate information is obtained from the court. Moreover, the majority of developed countries have implemented the same measures geared to prevent corruption. According to him, the data will remain in the MACC portal for three years, and with such initiatives taken by MACC to improve integrity and transparency within the country, it should only receive praise from the public.
In Islamic law, it is obligatory for individuals to report corruption and bribery practices to the authorities, as conspiring to hide it would be a sin. However, there are instances when the dissemination of information is prohibited and is classified as an official secret. If found guilty of disseminating the information, an individual will be charged under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). This Act has been highly criticised and if Malaysia is serious about waging a war against corruption, it should be removed.
Nevertheless, there have been instances where individuals have used corruption to accuse and discredit a party or intentionally create slander without proven facts, instead solely based on rumors or unauthorised documents.
In some instances, the public too have a role to play in changing their mentalities and dismissing their perceptions of lack in confidence towards the authorities. There are others who fear they would be expelled for exposing corruption, or get bribed by the authorities, especially if the individual that is involved in corruption holds a high position and has a “bigger cable” of network.
In the same time, authorities must improve on their investigative efforts and restore the public’s confidence by showing their determinacy to fight against corruption. Action must be taken immediately on reported offenders instead of conducting investigations on the person that reported the offence.
Based on Islamic principles, justice means that no one is spared in their wrongdoings, be it their close friends, relatives, and parents, even themselves. This is proven by the Prophet’s (PBUH) statement in a hadith:
“O people, those who have gone before you were destroyed, because if any one of high rank committed theft amongst them, they spared him; and it anyone of low rank committed theft, they inflicted the prescribed punishment upon him. By Allah, if Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, were to steal, I would have her hand cut off.”
Life in this world, is a test for us humans, and so is power and rank. The trust and responsibility given to us are also tests. Fighting corruption is considered a jihad. And we will all die when our time comes. As a reminder by Allah, in verse 35 of Surah Al-Anbiya:
“Every human being is bound to taste death; and We test you [all] through the bad and the good [things of life] by way of trial: and unto Us you all must return.”
Lastly, let us all come together and combat corruption. Let us remind ourselves that taking and receiving bribes is a big sin in Islam, and the act is greatly prohibited by Allah and His Messenger. Abdullah bin Amr (RA) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger cursed the one who bribes and the one who takes bribe.”( At-Tirmidhi)
Allah said in verse 188, Surah Al-Baqarah, “And eat up not one another’s property unjustly (in any illegal way e.g. stealing, robbing, deceiving, etc.), nor give bribery to the rulers (judges before presenting your cases) that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully.”
To which Imam Al-Qurtubi highlighted: “It means, do not combine taking each other’s property unjustly and giving false allegations to your rulers.”
With this being said, let us all take time and self-reflect. And may we all be guided with strength by Allah and be protected from the wrath and cursed act of corruption.
Chairman of the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA), Kelantan Branch