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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”!  

So the answer- begging question is ” Should the Anti-Corruption Law be amended to give the MACC  the power of prosecution?” If so,
  • 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.



4 Responses to “Next Post”

  1. 1 Gopal Raj Kumar
    December 2, 2010 at 6:49 am

    The vexed issue of corruption rears its head again. This time it provides a platform for those ‘one trick ponies’ amongst us with an axe to grind to perform in public, ventilating a regurgitation of views already expressed before ad nauseum. I say this with the greatest of respect to you Nini knowing full well that your channeling of the various public interest causes is perhaps the best thing the country has had to counter the illegitimacy and the anonymity of slanderous bloggers over the internet.

    It is now ‘open up’, ‘speak up’ ‘stand up’ and ‘be counted’. And it is good to know that there are amongst us those who find their causes important enough to be laid bare before all to see and for their claims to be tested outside the confines of anonymity (the internet) prejudice, trends, sloganeering and fantasy.

    Corruption as has been said many times before is a state of mind. It is not about a rich Malay in government. That perception is racist. Its is equally about ‘ang pows’ ‘bayar pintu’ ‘capitation fees at universities in the sub continent where many of our doctors hail from, that claim that non Malays will benefit equally from an opposition government and the subsequent betrayal after an opposition government captures a state.

    There and there have been throughout the history of Malaysia far more Chinese especially and Indians in government who have had huge bank balances living beyond their known or demonstrated capacity to lawfully earn what they have accumulated, who have been hailed by these communities as heroes.

    Corruption is not about an unresolved death in custody either. It is more of that state of mind that concludes that a detainee has been ‘murdered’ a statement uttered in court contemptuously when no murder has been proved.

    Corruption is also about the death of others of less economically powerful backgrounds whose deaths go unreported and are not subject of opposition parliamentarian queries because they are considered lesser beings, whose names and causes are only convenient statistics raise in order to bolster voter numbers when it comes to election time.

    You quite correctly once pointed out that when each of us engages in small acts of corruption, paying for small favours and as someone else once also echoed on your blog, the deeply entrenched ‘ang pow’ or ‘bayar pintu’ mentality goes beyond that thin grey line of a customary gift or tradition. It is unmitigated corruption at the lesser level. (little drops of water little grains of sand).

    Malaysia’s legislation first drafted by the British on its behalf never intended for corruption to be wiped out in places like Malaysia from which Britain made its billions. It was the spark in their mighty industrial engine that gave them that advantage over others. That pay off, that little gift of power in local government, a timber concession, or a place at a private boarding school for their first born.

    Till Malaysians who complain of this scourge are able to recognize the Achilles heel of this scourge being the absence of strong well worded and unambiguous legislation capable of shifting the evidentiary burden on the suspect, they can only wax and wane in this regard. Don’t count on the unenlightened loud anti government Malaysian Bar to help. They are that one trick pony I mentioned at the outset.


  2. 2 ninitalk
    December 2, 2010 at 9:04 am

    As usual, thank you GRK for providing a bigger abstraction of corruption than meets the eye (to see) and the mind (to fathom). Indeed corruption is an insidious cancer whose symptoms are recognised only when they manifest themselves in thwarted bodily functions. And indeed, the short-term cure lies in drastic chemotherapy and radiotherapy while the long-term remedy involves a complete change in lifestyle and dietary habits. For indeed, cancers are fed by the physical and socio-cultural environment as corruption in all its forms is. The main culprit seems to be the body politics!

    So what do we do about it?
    SHUT UP and let it fester? Or SPEAK UP and try to put it down?

    I, for one, will speak about it till the cows come home despite the lack of support from even friends and associates. I can’t believe these “well-educated and exposed” Malaysians think standing up against corruption is a lost cause because the scourge too deeply ingrained in the Malaysian psyche. Theirs as well I suppose! I suppose in their homes they just allow the cancer to eat up their loved ones without recourse to the right treatment LOL!

    I agree absolutely that the law must come into full force and come down hard on these errant people who I think are givers if not takers themselves. Otherwise why are they so cock-sure? Sadly, they will die the slow punishing death that the cancer of corruption brings to their families and descendants!

    The Whistle Blowers Act and the Witness Protection Act will be passed by Parliament at the end of the week as the measure by which the government’s anti-corruption transformation plan will be enforced. This is indeed a move in the direction you suggest – which is more than what the Aussies have down under!

    Tell us more about the predicament of corruption where you practise law GRK? Are Aussie lawyers and judges that incorruptible? I very much doubt it! It’s all a question of interpretation!

  3. 3 Gopal Raj Kumar
    December 2, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Take heart my friend. It is indeed the truth seekers that are to be found in small measure when the heat is on. I think the phrase “Belling the cat” is no stranger to someone of your intellect and education. Its neither ‘sit com’ language nor the cryptic syntax of texting but good language and good English at that.

    Yours is not a blog that would likely attract the pubescent or the present day loud and disruptive ‘red guard revolutionaries’ who do nothing but level unfounded allegations without foundation at all and sundry then run.

    There is a debate that’s been raging on another form of corruption with a particularly controversial event at its core. It is the Balasubramaniam a/l Perumal affidavit. Its approbation and reprobation I am sure you will recall made headlines during the indolent tenure of Malaysia’s former Prime Minister.

    Balasubramaniam made serious allegations about the serving PM and his aides in a particular matter, swore an affidavit of the truth of his assertions conveniently prepared for him by a lawyer using language not found in his vocabulary. The circus was supported wholeheartedly by the Malaysian Bar through elements within it.

    Balasubramaniam is a former policeman turned private security aide to a high profile individual and has been doing the rounds of the ‘underground’ media and blogsphere of the opposition repeating his fiction under oath.

    The matter raised in the Nutgraph has been commented on. As is the case quite often, the Nutgraph that claim to be making sense of politics and arguing for ‘freedoms, democratic rights and open government’ on behalf of an unaccountable opposition has seen it fit to censor by not publishing a response to that article of theirs, authored by a lawyer.

    Such is corruption. It is the undermining of the truth and a functioning and otherwise legitimate system. Not just the paying of bribes. It also the taking of bribes. Benefitting from bribery which no one is too keen to talk about on this subject. It involves distorting the truth through censorship, lies and deceit through denials of the truth and through other means.

    Fair-weather friends are those who are intimidated by the truth and the call to uphold it in public when required. You are unlikely to find ‘friends’ everywhere you look. You may be mistaking acquaintances for friends. These are found by the dozen when it matters least but are rare when there is need.

    I like many others who seek refuge from the flotsam of blogsphere often find relief and comfort in your ‘online magazine. It is colourful, informative, published in quality language which of itself is a compliment to the reader and sometimes challenging though not pretentious.

    Please keep us informed of any other upcoming public forums of this sort. Would love to contribute.



  4. 4 ninitalk
    December 3, 2010 at 8:53 am

    GRK – you have not answered my question about corruption in Australia and the
    (in)corruptibility of Australians, their lawyers and judges. What laws are in place? We want to learn about how the mighty white nations have become whiter than white and holier than thou!

    Fair weather friends? Who needs them?

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