SINCE its founding in 2004, the National Institute of Integrity has made its presence felt and the integrity agenda recognised. Thousands of leaders from various sectors have been familiarised with the principle of integrity. Nov 5 has been declared National Integrity Day. The enculturation of integrity in Malaysian culture/society will be enhanced with the implementation of the Third National Integrity Plan 2014-2018.
The integrity agenda may be one of the principles that will save Malaysia from the fall of grace, in the company of those countries considered among the most corrupt in the world. Corruption must not be a subculture embedded in the functions of business and government. Of the 175 countries surveyed in the Corruption Perception Index last year, Malaysia ranked 53th together with Turkey, and in the same band with Mauritius, Georgia, Lesotho, Bahrain and Croatia. Those responsible for creating such perceptions should be sensitised to the damage they are doing to the country.
The 10 least corrupt countries, according to Transparency International, are Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada. As Malaysia prides itself on its many achievements in various sectors, many of the achievements become diminished by the perception of widespread corruption. The society must take sustained measures to reverse the humiliation, reclaim its pride and set itself the agenda to be among the least corrupt nations of the world.
Year after year, the auditor-general’s reports and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reveal to the people various kinds of transgresses. This year, again, PAC noted that there were a lot of serious issues to be addressed and it has to summon 14 ministries and government agencies to explain wastage and fund leakages. These are examples of systematic auditing and with dealings where there are records. Other kinds of dealings are of a different nature and not recorded by the auditor-general or PAC.
Increasingly, many companies and agencies have come to take the Corporate Integrity Pledge (CIP). The CIP is co-developed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency, Malaysian Institute of Integrity, Transparency International Malaysia, Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), Bursa Malaysia, Bank Negara Malaysia, Companies Commission of Malaysia and Securities Commission Malaysia. Indeed, most major multinational companies such as Google, Dell and Marriot have “integrity” as one of their core values.
Datuk Dr Mohd Tap Salleh, who helms the National Institute of Integrity, said: “Political leaders must now act, practise and portray high levels of integrity. They are our role models. Four targets of the National Integrity are to fight against graft; raise the competency of civil servants and improve the delivery of service to the people; enhance economic governance and promote corporate social responsibility and a culture of volunteerism; and, inculcate the culture of integrity in family institutions. Integrity means the inculcation of noble values of selflessness, gratitude, transparency, accountability and honesty.”
Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, the United States and the United Kingdom and other leading nations take integrity seriously. Malaysia’s foundational ideals of Rukun Negara, 1Malaysia, Islam Hadhari, wassatiyahand the Global Movement of Moderates have embedded in their principles ideals of cleanliness, fair play, justice and honesty in dealings, which are all directly and indirectly related to “integrity”.
The teaching of universal and religious values in Moral Studies, Islamic Studies, the 12 pillars of the civil service, the 16 noble values taught in schools, as well as the 46 values of Islamic education and the infusion of Islamic values in the administration should put Malaysia in good stead to be a society with honour and dignity, enjoining the good and forbidding evil.
The agenda of inviting the people to own “integrity” is the right thing to do. Now, the good leaders from all sectors have to find the ways and means to get the people to internalise the positive value of “integrity”. The main threat and risk is that like religion, language, economics and culture, those with personal interest or narrow agenda may hijack the agenda, which will serve the rhetoric of their groups well. Nevertheless, like the sharing of Vision 2020, Malaysia can
share the ideals of the integrity agenda with Asean, the Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management and other nations. DATUK DR IBRAHIM AHMAD BAJUNID - NST Columnist 14 NOVEMBER 2014 @ 8:13 AMNST