The G25 supports the recent statement made by the Perlis Mufti, Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, that a person who holds a position of authority may not accept a gift or donation if it is of extraordinary value and it would not have been given if the recipient was not in that position, as it could influence his actions in a manner detrimental to the greater good or prevent him from fulfilling a trust placed on him. Indeed, we welcome and look forward to more of such reasoned and timely statements from the Islamic leaders and scholars of this country to provide guidance to the Muslim community.
Corruption is corrosive to society because it enables some to secure an unfair advantage over others, thereby doing damage to the general public interest. Declining morality in public life can set in train a cycle of decline and erosion of standards and norms in institutions and governance, from rule substitution by politicians, over- regulation and systemic procrastination by bureaucrats, and wasteful use of talents in rent seeking. Insisting upon the maintenance of high standards in all facets of life – private and public – rightfully becomes a cornerstone of good governance.
The Qur’an refers to corruption as a broad range of behavioral digressions that threaten the social, economic and ecological balance. It condemns those in authority who spread corruption and mischief (fasad) on land by conspiring racial divisions among people, bestowing benefits on some and oppressing others (Surahs 28:4; 89:10-12) and provides a number of examples from history whereby such collective behavior digressing from the revealed path resulted in the fall of nations and civilizations (Surahs 6:6; 28:4; 29:28-30; 30:41; 89:12).
The following verses in the holy Qur’an and Hadith literature demonstrates the importance Islam places in denouncing the evils of corruption and promoting the rule of law, justice and accountability for the betterment of mankind, environmental balance, peace and harmony in society: “O my people, give full measure and full weight with equity and defraud not people of their things and commit not inequity in the earth causing disorder,” Al-Quran, Surah Hud (11:85). “Whosoever from you is appointed by us to a position of authority and he conceals from us a needle or something smaller than that, it will be misappropriation (of public funds) and (he) will (have to) produce it on the day of judgement.” (Sahih Muslim Book 20, No. 4514).
In their book, An Islamic Perspective on Governance, Zafar Iqbal and Mervyn Lewis wrote: “On the moral plane, there is ‘zero tolerance’ for bribery in Islam, and Islam rejects the idea that bribery serves as ‘the grease that oils the economic wheels’. Further, there is no scope for legalizing corruption in the name of commission, gift, donation, advances, and soft loans whatsoever.” Islam thus provides an ethical framework for human behavior by applying principles of justice, equity, the rule of law, accountability, moral values and fear of Allah.
Within this ethical and moral framework, it is imperative to support efforts to improve governance, separation of powers, and enable checks and balances to take place, through limiting concentration of powers, constraining discretionary powers, and strengthening institutions to enhance their roles in combating corruption. In this regard, the G25 supports calls to allow institutions like the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission, Attorney General’s Chambers, Public Accounts Committee and Bank Negara Malaysia to continue with their important work of investigation, monitoring, enforcement and deterrence unimpeded, without interference or intimidation and without fear or favour.