MACC ‘S APPEAL
At a closed-door dialogue session with bloggers yesterday, the MACC Chief, Dato’ Seri Abu Kassim, made an earnest appeal for Malaysians who honestly want a corruption-free society to support the Commission’s efforts in eradicating the socio-cultural scourge. They must not be afraid to whistle-blow and must not turn into hostile witnesses in court.
Going through the MACC’s structure, functions and line of communication in some detail, Abu Kassim reiterated the independence and transparency of the Commission in its investigative role and the rigorous scrutiny imposed by the five committees that oversee its work. The MACC Chief and his officers are answerable to each of these committees culminating in their parliamentary accountability through the Special Committee on Corruption. The 2009 Annual Report is a comprehensive and detailed presentation of the Commission’s activities and the issues of public concern, including the relevant statistics and explanations.
Abu Kassim outlined the three-cornered structure of the official anti- corruption movement involving the MACC, the police and the Attorney General’s office i.e. the government department vested with the power of prosecution. The MACC’s power is limited to investigating the information it receives from the public and/or the reports made with the police. It must establish that there is indeed a case for prosecution and sufficient evidence to recommend that it be prosecuted. However, it is the Attorney General who ultimately decides who or what deserves to be taken to court.
The MACC’s main problem seems to be the lack of public awareness about its specialised role and responsibilities which leads to the poor perception of its efficacy in enforcing public justice. People’s expectations run high as they are better educated about the sins of bribery and corruption. They are more aware of what constitutes abuse of power and therefore want the corrupted to be tried and if found guilty, to be rightly sentenced. Only then would the anti-corruption movement be seen as effective, and the MACC credible. The public are crying out for the “big fish” and are weary of the MACC’s track record of catching the “ikan bilis”!
- Should the law be ammended to allow for oral or written confessions of corrupt wrongdoings to be used as direct evidence in court? This would solve the problem of witnesses turning hostile in court.
- Should lawyers and judges be subjected to an oath of incorruptibility before each case is brought to trial This would prevent the “cohorts in corruption” syndrome that is fast becoming a culture in our society.
It appears that the MACC alone cannot wipe out the all-pervading disease of corruption in society. It must be admitted that everywhere favours are asked for and favours granted often with purse strings attached. It appears that in the business world especially, coffee money – whether it is passed under the table or straight into people’s bank accounts, in hard cash or its softer purchases, in conferrments of tenders or titles – is not seen as morally unacceptable.
It is generally accomodated as a way of (Malaysian) life! The argument offered is that everyone’s doing it so it can’t be wrong! For many people corruption is not seen as a sin and therefore as a crime against society. Corruption is not seen as an abuse of power and therefore as an infringement of human dignity and human rights.
Abu Kassim and his team have a lot on their plate and it is for us as concerned and dutiful citizens to give them a hand. They will not succeed if we ordinary citizens do not succeed in spreading the word – among our family and friends, in our own little community and among its leaders, in our work place and among our colleagues.
They will not succeed if the PM and his Cabinet, the Members of Parliament and ADUN, the teachers and educators, the corporate and business leaders, parents and elders do not echo the same message.