PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said if Malaysia wants to join the ranks of developed countries and be among the tigers of Asia again, the country would need to take corruption seriously.
“We can’t get there by taking shortcuts.
“I think it is about time for Malaysia to join the list of developed and capable countries.
“Let the world know that we are a strong nation that respects democracy and the rule of law,” he said at the presentation of the Sheikh Tamin Bin Hamad Al Thani International Anti-Corruption Excellence Awards here.
Earlier, Mahathir attended the unveiling of a 12m steel monument showing a hand near Masjid Putra, a gift from the Qatar government to the prime minister and Malaysians, which symbolises the fight against corruption.
The Emir State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al Thani was present.
Mahathir said the hand represented the efforts of the international community in coming together and working hand-in-hand to fight the common enemy of corruption.
Mahathir praised the Qatar government for organising the anti-corruption awards and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for supporting it.
He also thanked the committee behind the Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani International Anti-Corruption Excellence Awards for choosing Putrajaya as the venue for this year’s ceremony.
“This event, organised in Malaysia, is an important recognition by the international community of our efforts in combating corruption in Malaysia.
“Malaysia and Malaysians made history in its May 9 general election when they voted out the coalition that had ruled since independence,” he told foreign participants.
Without doubt, it was the disgust for corruption that led the majority of Malaysians to stand up to the previous administration, he added.
“It is therefore incumbent upon us to ensure efforts to improve governance and introduce anti-corruption initiatives to bring an end to corrupt practices and abuse of power.”
Mahathir told the participants that Malaysia was not proud that at one time it was described as a kleptocracy.
“Today, we are pulling out all the stops to not only remove this tag but also to remind all in Malaysia that corruption is not something to be tolerated.”
He said graft should be treated with disgust and anger as only by reducing corrupt practices can the government and nation move forward.
“Malaysia and Malaysians can only consider themselves developed when they can resist corruption and put a stop to it,” he said, adding that it was crucial for Malaysians to raise their moral values and standards, regardless of what colour or creed they were from.
“This is the only way for Malaysia to move forward.”
Mahathir said corruption was an awful thing, one that can bring irreparable damage to society and the nation.
“We should celebrate the people who are fighting against corruption every day, which is why we are here today.”
Mahathir said as a way to show Malaysia’s support and commitment, the government was pledging RM500,000 to the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) to get the ball rolling to help the families of such fallen heroes.
At the function, awards were also given to international recipients for combating corruption.