THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is finalising a proposal to require members of the Cabinet and the civil service to declare if any of their family members are applying for government facilities.
This commonsensical step follows from an existing regulation requiring civil servants on a project approval committee to declare and recuse themselves if a relative is applying for the project.
These requirements are neither contradictory nor redundant but complementary. They make sense in avoiding any conflict of interest and the taint of complicity.
As the adage goes, those who are not guilty have nothing to hide and thus have no reason to obstruct such regulations. All upright individuals should encourage and welcome them.
Public officials serving the public interest must expect to be publicly accountable. Fairness and due process are vital in the judicious discharge of their appointed functions.
Proper conduct in the public domain must not only be done as standard operating procedure, it must also be seen consistently to be done. Public confidence in the nation’s institutions deserves to be protected.
Transparency in such cases simply means abiding by a standard course of openness. It will help dispel undue suspicions of improper conduct, while a lack of transparency only encourages the opposite.
Subjecting such official procedures to greater scrutiny does not mean that deserving members of the government or the civil service will be excluded from meaningful consideration.
But it does mean that a clean record of the award process for opportunities and entitlements will be maintained.
Furthermore, including the proposed new clause in the Public Service Code of Conduct will also mean that those who have been awarded the government facilities are truly the deserving ones.
The larger issue here concerns the standard of governance popularly deemed acceptable.
As society develops, these standards inevitably rise, reflecting a more mature polity.
However, the efficacious execution of these requirements also demands more by way of specifics.
Clear criteria need to be spelt out for the level or scale of the government facilities requiring declaration. There should also be no doubt about who constitutes a “family relative”: the distance from the immediate family must be defined.
With clarity instead of ambiguity, there should be no excuse for misunderstanding, misconduct or misplaced suspicions. More work is needed for better work.
The Star Says
Source: The STAR Online Home News Opinion Sunday June 3, 2012