Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has mooted greater independence of the media as part of a larger policy proposal towards eradicating corruption.
This followed the release of Malaysia’s latest standing in global watchdog Transparency-International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which saw a drop of two points and six rungs among 180 countries surveyed.
“The dirty act of blocking and fearmongering the media should be stopped.
“Independence of the media would act as a catalyst to ensure politicians are more careful with their actions,” said the former youth and sports minister.
“The media should be allowed to work actively as the fourth estate in ensuring check and balance,” he said, citing the Wang Kelian death camp expose and the more recent halal meat cartel scandal as examples of how media independence had benefited the country.
“These are all big news and proof that the media should be given the freedom to fully report their findings without any fear,” he added.
In releasing the findings, Transparency-International Malaysia (TI-M) president Muhammad Mohan said that possible reasons for Malaysia’s downward trajectory – after two years of improved performance – could include stalled institutional reform efforts started by the previous Pakatan Harapan administration.
Syed Saddiq said the efforts include tabling a political funding act, which is a current grey area linked to many high-profile corruption scandals.
Other areas of institutional reforms include greater independence for the MACC, as well as strengthening Parliament’s check-and-balance role.
In the area of power decentralisation, Syed Saddiq argued that reforms should start from the top by imposing a term limit on the prime minister’s post.
“Introducing a term limit will ensure little to no abuse of power can be exercised by the prime minister especially knowing that their power is not absolute and they can, later on, be held accountable for any untoward actions,” he added.
Syed Saddiq said during its time in power, Harapan abolished the prime minister’s discretionary fund. But this amount that can be spent without oversight was returned by Perikatan Nasional at a larger sum of RM1 billion.
“This ridiculously exceptional power has to go.
“No one, including the prime minister, should be allowed to spend the people’s money without any check and balance,” he stressed.
Overall, Syed Saddiq said all MPs should be given an equal allocation, to prevent repeated incidents of party-hopping in the pretext of helping the people.
“There’s a fear that if any of the MPs do something against the will of the government of the day, their allocation will also be pulled out.
“This has also hampered the system of check and balance,” he added.
“MPs are switching sides like nobody’s business under the pretext of doing it for their respective constituency. Some MPs had to resort to assisting business people in closing contracts in order to get a cut of the contract.
“Installing equal funding for all MPs will reduce such reasoning and it will also be beneficial for the people on the ground,” he said.
The former Bersatu youth chief noted that the struggle should extend beyond electing good leaders, to pushing for lasting institutional reforms.
“Good leaders may last for a few years but an empowered institution will last for generations.
“And this fight is a fight for all generations,” said the Muda pro-tem committee chairperson who is now challenging a Registrar of Society decision to reject their registration as a political party.