KUALA LUMPUR: The “absolute powers” vested in the finance minister through the Financial Procedures Act 1957 must be reviewed as they provide room for corruption, said former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
The veteran Umno leader said the loopholes in the act had allowed the minister to award contracts to any party through direct negotiations.
“If we want to control corruption, we must look into the Financial Procedures Act. The Financial Procedures Act gives absolute power to the finance minister through the Parliament,” Tengku Razaleigh, popularly known as Ku Li, told a press conference yesterday.
“There are many loopholes there. For example, direct negotiation. That is the finance minister’s power. You come to my office, tell me you want to construct a bridge, and I could give you the project as the finance minister,” Tengku Razaleigh said.
The Gua Musang MP said this was unethical as the government was accountable to the people and reminded Putrajaya that the wealth it managed did not belong to their “mother and father”.
“This is the people’s taxes money which we collect through taxes. We can’t just use it as we please. We have to use the correct methods and the best method is through open tender,” he said.
The finance minister’s post has been held by the prime minister following the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from the position in 1998 by then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
On Budget 2015 tabled last week by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who also holds the finance portfolio, Tengku Razaleigh said it was a “fairly good one” but noted that it failed to resolve the issue of corruption.
He said the Official Secrets Act must also be reviewed as it has “hidden thousands of sins”.
“If the issue involved corruption, I think anyone who wants to see the country become clean should be allowed to expose it,” said Tengku Razaleigh.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act should also be relooked as it missed “salient provisions” that could tackle corruption, he said.
“I particularly want to see not only the corrupters and corrupt be given the boot. I think even the nominees and trustees should be accounted for.”
Tengku Razaleigh was speaking after officiating at a forum on the Ali Baba menace organised by the Malay Economic Action Council at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation in Kuala Lumpur.
In his keynote address, he said the Ali Baba phenomenon was a result of corrupt leaders abusing their powers in implementing the New Economic Policy. — The Malaysian Insider
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 17, 2014.