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Media Statement (3) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 21st July 2009: 

MACC – prove that you are not even worse of a lapdog of Barisan Nasional government than ACA in the past!

On 11th December 2008, the New Straits Times carried a report “Abu Kassim: Lapdog tag won't stick any more” on the new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to replace the discredited Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).

This is the NST report:

KUALA LUMPUR: Five bodies will closely watch over the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to ensure its transparency and integrity.

They are the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board; Special Committee on Corruption; Operations Review Panel; Corruption Prevention and Consultative Panel; and a Complaints Committee.

With the five scrutinising bodies, Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) deputy director-general Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed hopes that the MACC would not be accused of being the lapdog of the government as the ACA had been accused of thus far.

"The difference here is accountability. Now, they (critics of the ACA) say we are accountable to the prime minister and the Prime Minister's Department, although we are only accountable to him when it comes to the agency's budget.

"With five independent bodies scrutinising the MACC, no one can say we are accountable to the prime minister. Which other agency do you know of has to answer to five such bodies? Even the ICAC (Hong Kong's Independent Commission on Anti-Corruption) has only four scrutinising bodies," he said during a recent briefing on the MACC.

Members of the five bodies will not be paid any allowances for their work. Most will be taken from outside the MACC but will be assisted by ex-officio personnel drawn from the commission.

The advisory board, for instance, will comprise seven individuals to be appointed by the king on the advice of the prime minister, but will have five ex-officio members.

Abu Kassim said the seven independent members are to be those with high integrity, respected by the community at large and from all walks of life, whether corporate figures, members of non-governmental organisations, legal professionals or academicians.

They will serve three years on the board for a maximum of two terms.

The board will be set up under the MACC Act.

The Operations Review Panel, which will be set up under an administrative order, will also comprise seven individuals and three ex-officio members.

These members will serve two-year terms for a maximum of three terms.

The Corruption Prevention and Consultative Panel will also have seven members and three ex-officio members, to serve for two-year terms of not more than three terms.

These members will be responsible for ensuring that the MACC does enough to educate the public on the evils of corruption and how to fight the menace.

It will also assist in maintaining public support for the MACC.

The Complaints Committee will handle complaints of a non-criminal nature against commission officers. The committee will look into complaints concerning the conduct of MACC officers while carrying out their duties, whether in receiving reports or investigating them.

However, if any complaint has elements of criminality, the complaint will be forwarded to the necessary government agency, such as the police force, for further investigation.

The Special Committee on Corruption, meanwhile, is different from the other scrutinising bodies in that it will comprise parliamentarians.

To be appointed by the king on the advice of the head of the Dewan Rakyat, members may come from both sides of the political divide.

Despite all the big talk by Datuk Abu Kassim six months ago, the majoritarian opinion among Malaysians is that the MACC is even worse as a lapdog of the Barisan Nasional government than the ACA, despite the phalanx of five bodies to provide “checks and balances” absent in previous ACA legislation.

The mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock, political secretary to Selangor DAP State Exco and State Assemblyman for Seri Kembangan Ean Yong Han Hwa on Thursday after plunging from the 14th floor of MACC after going to MACC to co-operate in its investigations, is only “the last straw that has broken the camel’s back” after a catalogue of misuse and abuse of power by MACC in the past six month.

In the past six months, the five “check and balance” bodies have provided not a single check or balance to ensure that the MACC does not deviate from its parliamentary and national objective to declare war on corruption.

Instead, these five “check and balance” bodies appear to be completely helpless and impotent with the MACC declaring war on the Pakatan Rakyat as the catspaw of the Barisan Nasional national government.

I am not surprised at reports that a revolt is brewing among the “top advisers” in the five MACC “check and balance” bodies, who had been treated as if they did not exist and only role is to be window-dressings to give the MACC a good public image.

Although Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, who heads the Panel on Consultation and Prevention of Corruption, has confirmed that several of his fellow advisers have indicated that they may quit their appointed posts to protest the methods in which witnesses are questioned for information, he himself is determined to “carry on”.

Navaratnam said: “No point in resigning. That’s the easy way out. We’ve got a public trust to fulfill.”

Does Navaratnam and the members of the five panels have any clue what is going on in MACC in the past six months and why they had done nothing to bring the MACC back to the original objectives to declare war on corruption instead of declaring war on Pakatan Rakyat?

Up to now, the members of these five “check and balance” MACC bodies are not generally known to the Malaysian public.

Instead of continuing a shadowy figures, let Malaysians know who are all the members of the five bodies, how many meetings each body had held so far and what they have achieved.

Lets have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) not only for the MACC in the past five months, but also KPIs for these five bodies as to whether they are performing any useful function at all.

Together with Pakatan Rakyat MPs, I propose to seek a meeting with all the five bodies in the coming week to find out what exactly they are doing and whether they are discharging the legislative intent of the MACC Act or the very opposite and just a complete waste of public funds, energy and time.

For the MACC, in particular Abu Kassim – let MACC prove that it is not even worse of a lapdog of Barisan Nasional government than ACA in the past from its record of its first six months of establishment from 1.1.09!

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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