Any prime minister does not need more than 24 hours to take a decision to combat administrative and financial corruption. He also does not need more than one week after that to start executing his decision – that is if he wants to make such a decision and execute it.
This is what has been clear from the experience of 92-year-old Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad, who returned to government after resigning 15 years ago.
It is an example for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who like his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki, kept talking and making promises to combat corruption and to launch war on the corrupt like the war launched against ISIS. Abadi, however, ended up only making statements but took no action!
In only nine days, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad managed to outmaneuver corruption in his country. He launched a campaign against corruption by taking a decision in one day by instituting an effective mechanism to crack down on the corrupt.
The campaign started by targeting former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor and some of their relatives with the aim of recovering billions of dollars smuggled out of the country through money laundering for over a decade.
On May 10, Mahathir entered the royal palace in the capital Kuala Lumpur to take the oath of office and officially begin his work as prime minister, after his party ‘Alliance of Hope’ won in the parliamentary elections, which Mahathir had participated in after changing his decision of quitting politics in 2003.
In only nine days, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad managed to outmaneuver corruption in his countryAdnan Hussein
The corruption file
The first decision Mahathir took after assuming office was opening the corruption file. He has returned to politics and to premiership for this specific purpose after completing 22 years in the high office (1981-2003) during which he transformed Malaysia from being a poor agricultural and underdeveloped country into an Asian tiger and a major industrial state, by virtue of his integrity, efficiency and patriotism.
In this context, he issued a decision to prevent his corrupt predecessor and his wife from traveling and began investigating the corruption cases filed against them. He has also ordered investigating other senior officials of the ministry of finance and the public prosecutor’s office over their involvement in corruption cases.
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Mahathir announced that his government will work toward recovering billions of dollars that have been transferred to the US, Switzerland and other countries through money laundering.
On May 17, Mahathir established a government commission to combat corruption in all state institutions. The next day, the commission called on the former prime minister to appear before it while the police raided his house and found 284 boxes of handbags and 72 bags stuffed with money and jewelry.
Mr. Abadi has now at least two months before the new government is formed, whether under his presidency or someone else. In these two months he can do what Mahathir accomplished in nine days if he wishes so, but does he want to?
Adnan Hussein is the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Mada newspaper and head of the National Union of Iraqi journalists. Previously, he has held the position of Managing Editor in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. He tweets under the handle @adnanhussein.