KUALA LUMPUR, In calling for Malaysia to be a nation of integrity, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the country should not allow corruption and greed to once again lead it astray.
The prime minister said Malaysia needs to regain its reputation and credibility in the eyes of the world and be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with growing Asian economies once more.
Rampant corruption and greed have led us to lose our way. This must not happen again, he said in his special address at the 11th International Conference on Financial Crime and Terrorism Financing (IFCTF) 2019 here today.
Speaking at the event with the theme of 'Building Trust and Transparency: Collaborate, Accelerate, Strengthen', Dr Mahathir noted that it is the people's wish that the new government installed following the 2018 general election would uphold good governance, integrity, and get rid of corrupt practices and the abuse of power.
These demands were the result of the manner the previous administration had conducted their affairs. They ignored these high values and, in turn, were rejected by Malaysians who could not stomach the blatant abuse of power and corruption, he said.
The prime minister noted that it was during this period that financial crimes were committed brazenly and blatantly without regard for the laws and regulations.
This was only possible because the highest power entrusted to defend these laws was the very one committing them, he said at the conference organised by the Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers (AICB) and the Compliance Officers' Networking Group (CONG).
Dr Mahathir said that among the immediate measures taken by the new government to ensure that such acts would be stopped immediately are the National Anti-Corruption Plan 2019-2023 and the National Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Centre which were set up to further defend the integrity of the nation.
Dr Mahathir said they have been put in place after learning the painful lesson that corruption and abuse of power inhibits fair distribution of wealth, affects the country's economic potential, disrupts its future, erodes the strength and effectiveness of institutions and weakens people's trust.
Economic reforms, he said, cannot usher in Malaysia Baharu or New Malaysia unless they are accompanied by institutional and governance reforms.
He underscored that while laws and governance frameworks play an important part in a clean, transparent and accountable Malaysia, they can only go so far.
It needs to be supported with the right leadership in both public and private sectors to ensure that this reinforced culture of integrity will be the new norm in Malaysia, Dr Mahathir said.
Malaysia Baharu cannot happen if we don't shed and remove the old mentality that tolerated corrupt practices, the prime minister said.
He observed that over the years corruption had reached a level of almost becoming a lifestyle and cash was ushered in and heralded as the new king.
Without decisive shifts in the behaviour and expectations of Malaysians in favour of transparency and accountability, our efforts to achieve the Shared Prosperity Vision will fail, Dr Mahathir said.
The prime minister also presided over the launch of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative to better combat financial crimes.
It is a collaboration between Bank Negara Malaysia, Securities Commission Malaysia, law enforcement agencies and financial institutions.
PPPs promote synergy in anti-money laundering or countering financing of terrorism measures, and this is achieved through effective, timely and seamless sharing of financial intelligence from financial institutions for the purpose of crime prevention and law enforcement.
For Malaysia's PPP, law enforcement and financial institutions would continue to adhere to Malaysia's data protection legal framework in combating financial crimes, Dr Mahathir said.
Source: Office of the Prime Minster Malaysia