Press Statement by Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, President, Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) on the passing of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Bill by Parliament on Dec 11, 2008.
The passing of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Bill and the Judicial Appointments Commission is most welcomed and long awaited by Transparency International–Malaysia (TI-M). The Prime Minister has kept his promise and tabled both the MACC and JAC in Parliament.
TI-M is delighted with this commitment by the Prime Minister. Furthermore, the most salient points TI-M raised were addressed and put aboard the MACC. These include being a more independent body with prosecuting powers when dealing with ALL cases and no longer having to consult the Attorney-General’s office and be influenced by the pulls of party politics.
With the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) director now termed as Chief Commissioner with the powers of a Deputy Public Prosecutor, TI-M hopes that upon the passing of the law it will be properly enforced and provide the ACA far reaching powers to prosecute and investigate all cases.
– TI-M also stresses that it is important to have people with the highest integrity and a proven track record to sit on the commission. All processes with regards to the MACC and four other committees must be just and transparent, as this will ensure the rakyat’s faith and confidence in the system.
– Anyone living above his means should be accountable for it and the onus is on him to be able to prove that his wealth is not ill-gotten. The onus should be on the accused and this should be clearly defined and reflected positively in the law.
TI-M welcomes the provisions in the law providing full anonymity to whistleblowers. However, it is regretted that those lodging false reports are liable to be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to RM100,000.
This punitive action will seriously discourage potential whistleblowers. The Complaints Committee must take it upon themselves to ensure that whistleblowers are protected against the abuse of allegations that they are making false reports.
TI-M stresses that the fines should be considerably reduced and that amendments on this aspect can be made by the Committee during the 2nd reading at the Parliament stage.
The BPI (Bribe Payers Index) showed that at least 70% of the public find the ACA ineffective. There is very low level of confidence and recent events (such as in the case of the landslide in Kuala Lumpur) are showing greater mistrust and distress towards our institutions.
It is timely and necessary that the new MACC should strive to show results quickly and gain wide publicity. The government must show they mean business in fighting corruption.
The BPI also showed that Malaysian businesspeople were less critical of the other Asia Pacific countries in terms of bribery to high ranking politicians or political parties. This suggests that it has become part of our culture to accept and overlook disreputable practices of politicians. With the rising trend of the issues concerning corruption and money politics as a large significant phenomenon in our country, TI-M reiterates the enactment of this bill will help curb this social ill and set things straight.
The test of the pudding will be in the eating, so the bottom line is that the ACA must show results within the next 3 months.
The MACC shows the seriousness of the PM’s resolve and efforts and helps restore a sense of trust in the systems. If kept transparent and according to plan, the bills will keep our systems clean and clear. TI-M will monitor the developments of this law carefully and hopes it will become very much part of our nation’s way of life.
TI-M urges everyone to support the Bill and that the Act can be improved and revised as we use it. It must be a part of our everyday lives and people must uphold it with absolute steadfastness for a cleaner and better Malaysia for all to enjoy.