VIENNA, Jan 22 — International cooperation is of utmost importance in the fight against corruption due to the current porous borders where money is easily moved from one country to another, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said here today.
Delivering his keynote address at the 10th Annual General Assembly of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA), the prime minister cited Malaysia’s experience where funds embezzled from 1MDB were laundered in the United States.
“International cooperation will help battle corruption, maybe even reduce it to a bearable level.
“I hope the IAACA will continue to meet and discuss and exchange ideas on how to combat corruption, especially in poorer countries that cannot become rich because of graft,” he said during his almost 40-minute speech.
The IAACA was formed in 2006 to promote the effective implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption, of which Malaysia is a signatory.
Malaysia was among the earliest to join IAACA. which now has 140 member countries, and is headed by Ali Fetais Al-Marri of Qatar.
Dr Mahathir said the fight against corruption is an endless endeavour.
“Corruption is something that destroys the whole society — it affects everybody. Government officers delay approvals for projects to get bribes and this affects the economic development of a country, and the people suffer.
“It is necessary to get rid of graft but first a country’s leadership must not be corrupt.
“Malaysia was relatively free of corruption in its first 45 years after Independence but became highly corrupt in the last 15 years.
“We have now put in place many restrictions that we hope will ensure corruption will not take place.
“Our Anti-Corruption Commission has been given power to take action even against the prime minister and ministers.
“There are fewer cases of corruption now as government officers know that they will be subject to swift action if the commit corruption,” he said.
Earlier, Ali Fetais announced in his welcoming remarks that a fund named after Dr Mahathir will be set up with a donation of RM500,000 from Malaysia and another 1 million Qatari Riyal from the Emir of Qatar.
Pointing out that the fund was mooted by Dr Mahathir, he said it will help graft busters who have been sacked or removed from office for carrying out their duties, and also the families of those killed in the fight against corruption.