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Home World Malaysian ex-PM’s arrest puts focus on Anwar’s corruption fight | Corruption

Malaysian ex-PM’s arrest puts focus on Anwar’s corruption fight | Corruption

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – At an investment forum this week, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said his government will not tolerate corruption regardless of official status or political ties, and vowed to tackle fraud “without fear or favor.” bottom.

Less than 48 hours later, former Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was indicted on multiple corruption charges related to directly negotiated government contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The indictment against Muhyiddin, announced on Friday following an investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), comes after Anwar came to power last year on a promise to clean up the Southeast Asian nation’s politics. It represents the most impressive move to date.

Although the MACC is officially independent of the government, the charges against Muhyiddin strengthen reformist Anwar’s anti-corruption campaign and “enable his government to show progress under his leadership.” It is possible, said Grace Lee Hoi Yen, dean of economics at Monash University Malaysia. .

“This will instill hope in people that progress and progress can be achieved in this country,” Lee told Al Jazeera, saying the investigation was a potential “turning point” in efforts to tackle corruption in Malaysia. .

“This will also be a huge vote of confidence in Anwar’s leadership and he will be credited for this development.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was elected in November on a platform promising greater transparency and accountability. [File: Mohd Rasfan/AFP]

Anwar, a former student leader who navigated an extraordinary 30-year journey from presidential waiting list to imprisoned opposition leader and back again, is a prime example of Malaysia’s repeatedly shaken corruption. It has staked much of his reputation and political legitimacy to eradicate it. By fraud involving the rich and powerful, including the long-running scandal surrounding the Sovereign Wealth Fund 1MDB.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who led Malaysia from 2009 to 2018, is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for his role in the 1MDB scandal, which looted an estimated $4.5 billion from the state coffers.

Anwar, revered in the Western financial world for serving as finance minister during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998, has helped restore investor confidence in the economy and restore the country’s damaged image abroad. We have emphasized the importance of repair.

Shortly after his November election victory, Anwar ordered a review of a government project worth billions of Malaysian ringgits, which the Muhyiddin government embarked on without due process during his 17-month tenure. he said.

Anwar, who is also finance minister, said in January that Malaysia, which has a lower gross domestic product (GDP) per capita than China, could become a developed country if it could eradicate the problem of corrupt officials. . Steal its wealth.

Malaysia ranked 61st out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index last year, down 10 places from 2019.

Anwar’s first 100 days in office were not without controversy, and his efforts to foster an image of accountability and transparency were challenged.

Last month, Anwar’s daughter, Nurul Isa Anwar, resigned as senior economic and financial adviser to the prime minister following backlash over perceived nepotism.

Anwar has also been criticized for appointing Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is on trial for corruption charges, as deputy prime minister of the government.

Several members of Anwar’s own Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, including former Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Democratic Action Party National Committee Chairman Lim Guan Eng, are also on trial on corruption-related charges.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is serving a 12-year prison sentence for his role in the 1MDB scandal [File: Lai Seng Sin/Reuters]

Niaz Asadulla, an economics professor at Monash University Malaysia, said many Malaysians are now skeptical of Anwar’s efforts to clean up the country.

“Naturally, Anwar is keen to regain momentum in the anti-corruption campaign,” Asadullah told Al Jazeera.

“For now, Iza Anwar’s resignation has helped establish Anwar as a ‘responsive leader’ who is open to public criticism, even when his own family is involved. The public pursuit of his closest political challenger, former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin Anwar, presents a bigger and more perfect opportunity that might help kill two birds with one stone. “

Some argue that the accusations against Muhyiddin, Anwar’s prime minister’s chief rival since the last election, may be as or more political than his tackling corruption.

Muhyiddin has sought judicial review to challenge the travel ban on him and the freeze of his party’s bank accounts, and has denied any wrongdoing.

He and other members of his Bersatu party allege that the then ruling party improperly received RM300 million ($66.33 million) from the contractor who won the project during the pandemic, as a political witch hunt. I’m explaining.

Muhyiddin told reporters on Thursday that Anwar hoped to thwart his Pelikatan National Coalition, which has strong support from the Malay Muslim majority, in the upcoming state elections, and said he would “punish the people.” It will be possible,” he said.

The most serious charges against Muhyiddin are four counts of abuse of power and two counts of money laundering, carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Corruption in Malaysia
Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission officially independent of government [File: AP]

Anwar has repeatedly denied directing or interfering with the MACC investigation, which has been going on for months, and his only involvement is in disclosing projects by the previous administration that have not gone through the tender process. It claims that there is

“He was called very recently, so we don’t know the outcome of the investigation yet,” Anwar told the Malay Mail on Thursday. “But you said all the cases were politically motivated.” If so, how do we arrest people in large-scale corruption cases?”

A spokesman for the PH Coalition in Anwar did not respond to a request for comment.

As Anwar is not directly responsible for investigating or apprehending crimes, some Malaysians view MACC’s actions as being “autonomous and empowered to act against political magnates.” I would see it as a “bold step” to show that no one is “too big to be in jail.” During Anwar’s tenure,” said Professor Asadullah of Monash University.

“But in reality, this could be a veiled attempt to consolidate political power by justifying the greatest immediate and long-term political threat to the unified government of Anwar. there is.”

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