Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Wednesday signed Transparency International's Election Integrity Pledge – delivering a powerful statement on his commitment to free and fair elections ahead of GE13.
"I believe that as the BN leader, I have to set a strong tone. Only a candidate who is deemed to have fought a clean and fair election will lead to a trustworthy government respected by the people," he wrote.
He also made a further sign of his vow by saying that Barisan Nasional candidates would also put their name to the decree.
"Once the BN nominees for the general elections are announced, I will ensure that all candidates sign the pledge," he said afterwards.
The pledge is a voluntary social contract where candidates who will be standing for election pledge to promote integrity, good governance, transparency and accountability and to uphold the rule of law.
Transparency International-Malaysia President Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, who witnessed Najib's signature along with MACC Deputy Chief Operations Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdul, hopes that the number of signatories will not end there.
He explained that the pledge is not about the party, but the individual. He hopes that all candidates and party leaders from not only Barisan Nasional but Pakatan Rakyat too, along with any independents standing for GE13 will step forward and show their commitment like Najib.
However, given Pakatan's reluctance to even have their candidates vetted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), perhaps he shouldn't get his hopes up.
Indeed it was just last month that PAS Information chief Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said that his party was happy with its own internal, closed-doors procedures for vetting candidates.
BN Publicity and Information Bureau chairman Datuk Ahmad Maslan said that this provided a stark difference between Barisan Nasional which has proven a renewed commitment to transparency and Pakatan Rakyat which has struggled lately under the weight of fiascos like DAP's CEC disaster.
"The people want leaders who are forthright, trustworthy, hardworking and putting the people first. The BN and Umno are striving to fulfil the people's aspirations as enshrined in the party's constitution and struggle," he said.
"The prime minister is spearheading transformation in various fields based on the 1Malaysia concept to a better future."
Earlier DAP's favourite spokesperson Tony Pua described the Transparency International pledge as "very empty".
Paul Low disagreed.
"You may say it is cosmetic but we explained to them that you are actually making a public declaration, and you are making a social contract with them, of his own conviction or commitment, that he will uphold principles of integrity and good governance."