Will our graft busters go the distance?

By Terence Fernandez, TheSun

THE charging of three Tourism Ministry officials yesterday for criminal breach of trust involving close to RM1 million goes a distance to show that the government is serious in nipping in the bud corruption and misuse of public funds.

However, while the likes of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the police may get some brownie points for their efforts, especially since the netting of a big fish in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) fiasco, the people still need convincing that the real culprits – the ones with money and connections will not be let off the hook.

After all what is RM1 million compared to the millions siphoned from public funds?

Last Thursday, the courts in Shah Alam and Kajang were all abuzz that there would be more VIPs reined in over the PKFZ fiasco and another case in Selangor. But reporters were left disappointed when no one turned up.

What went down for sure, according to our sources, is that frantic phone calls and horse-trading were the order of the day.

There is no evidence to show that the perpetrators will be let off. But what is certain is that the phone calls bought a little time. For what one is unsure. It is perhaps, as some speculate, to destroy evidence or to effect a plea bargain to give up bigger fish.

Unfortunately, the reality of things is that when it comes to several characters, applying the full weight of the law depends on political expediency and repercussions.

Taking one down will mean taking others down as well, and sometimes, it may not be in the best interest of the political longevity of certain individuals as well as the party they represent.

In the midst of all these, the A-G’s Chambers, the MACC and the police become unwitting and unwilling players in the game of political one up-manship. And herein lies the true test of the independence of these institutions.