I will be the first to praise the Government if the IPCMC and bring to book all who are guilty of misconduct

Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) chairperson Datuk Seri Heliliah Mohd Yusof claims the opposition will never admit it if a government agency does a good job. Datuk Seri Heliliah said this in response to criticism from me that the EAIC was “designed to fail” from the onset.

“Will the opposition praise any government body despite it being set up with heartfelt sincerity?” she asked.

Let me declare upfront that I will be the first to praise the Government if the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) and bring to book all who are guilty of misconduct. And this will certainly not be my first time doing so.

However, I’d like to ask the Chairperson of EAIC if she actually thinks that the Commission has delivered anywhere remotely close to what was promised?

In the past 3 years, the EAIC receive only a budget of RM7 million a year. Today, it has only 1 investigating officer as part of a 23-man staff which include its clerks and drivers.

In terms of actual concrete actions taken since its formation in September 2011 and until the end of 2012, the EAIC had only recommended one disciplinary action and two warnings to civil servants. In that sole case of disciplinary action, a complaint had been lodged against a police officer mid-last year for closing a case after three days.

Even in this relatively minor case of indiscipline, the EAIC CEO Nor Afizah Hanum Mokhtar admitted that she doesn’t know if the recommended disciplinary action of a demotion has actually been carried out by the Police. This is despite the fact that within the EAIC law, the Police is required by law to feedback to EAIC on the actions taken on specific complaints and recommendations.

The fact that the Government isn’t serious, with only 1 investigating officer today to “look after” 19 government agencies. is proof of the intent for the entire exercise to fail.

The performance of EAIC is so dire that even Datuk Seri Helilah’s former colleague, former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad had openly questioned the effectiveness of the EAIC. Datuk Seri Helilah should perhaps be thankful that the ‘opposition’ hasn’t been more harsh in their criticism of the EAIC, perhaps its Commissioners being accused even of “sleeping on the job”.

Hence the opposition’s “criticisms” of the EAIC are entirely valid and should not be summarily dismissed by the EAIC as the chairperson did. In fact, I would challenge the former Court of Appeal Judge, Datuk Seri Helilah to state unequivocally if the EAIC has actually served its purposed and has successfully met its founding objectives.

EAIC and IPCMC – It’s just a name?

This leads to the core issue as to whether the EAIC will ever be able to emulate the role and purpose of the IPCMC as envisioned in the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the Royal Malaysian Police in 2005.

Two days ago, I had written that Datuk Paul Low is sorely mistaken that the difference between EAIC and IPCMC is just in the name. The difference between the two is clearly in their intent, with the former set up as a toothless tiger meant specifically as a cosmetic job to placate the public’s demand for an IPCMC, while pandering to strident objections of the police force. The IPCMC on the other hand, was clearly an agency to check, discipline and inculcate greater professionalism in the police force.

Datuk Paul Low had pleaded victimisation immediately on 10th June, to express his “grave disappointment” at how his words have been “blatantly misrepresented for reasons best known only to Mr Tony Pua himself”.

“I fail to see how much clearer I can make it understood ...IPCMC and EAIC are only names, and what really matters is that we arrive at an independent agency that has the resources, clout and scope of influence to do the job effectively, now that the weaknesses of the existing EAIC had been more or less identified… Whether the name remains ‘EAIC’ at the end of the day… ‘EAICC’, ‘PEAIC’, etc… does it really matter? …Clearly, even a teenager would be able to conclude that my intention was never to equate the EAIC in its current form to that of the IPCMC proposed by the RCI in 2005,” he said.

So did I “blatantly misrepresent” Paul Low’s words or his intent and as a result maligned him unfairly?

Let me remind him in his own words stated just less than 2 weeks ago on 30th May in his press conference. Datuk Paul Low has actually stated in his own words that the “EAIC is actually the IPCMC”. When asked if he meant that there was no need for an IPCMC with the existence of the EAIC by reporters, he specifically responded that “we already have the channel”.

Now this “teenager’s” question to him is, in the context of the above statements – did I misrepresent his words or did Datuk Paul Low twist his own words?

However, as pleaded by Datuk Paul Low himself, let me be constructive and give him the benefit of the doubt.

The point of my earlier statement was that the names of these institutions signifies and signals the intent of the Government. And that is exactly the reason why the Government has stubbornly refused to set up an institution named “IPCMC”. Otherwise, if it is all “just a name”, why not just change the Commission’s name from EAIC to IPCMC, and claim the moral victory of delivering what the rakyat is “crying out for”?

The RCI 2005 has even drafted a proposed IPCMC legislation which was substantively rejected by the BN Government. The EAIC was emasculated to become essentially a “post-office” to refer cases back to the affected institution’s own disciplinary panels and committees, without any power to enforce punishment or recommendations on the guilty enforcement parties.

Datuk Paul Low has a simple position to take. Incorporate all the recommendations made by the RCI proposal for the IPCMC into the EAIC, and Pakatan Rakyat will immediately concede that the EAIC can retain its name. After all, to quote the Transparency Minister, it is “just a name”.

Tony Pua Kiam Wee DAP National Publicity Secretary & MP for Petaling Jaya Utara