‘MACC can improve’

by Karen Arukesamy. TheSun

PETALING JAYA (July 25, 2010): The Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (ACAB) says there is room for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to improve, especially in gaining public confidence.

In a report prepared by the board, which comprises 13 high-profile members chaired by former chief justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad, it said MACC has “yet to function optimally in several areas and its potentials have not been fully realised”.

Acknowledging MACC’s efforts to discharge its responsibilities with “dedication and sincerity” since its inception in January 2009, the board said it is “satisfied” with the commission and it has performed better than the old Anti-Corruption Agency.

However, it has yet to gain the confidence of some sections of the community, the board said.

Taking note that public perception takes time to revolutionise, it said what is important is for MACC to be given the opportunity and time to prove itself.

Abdul Hamid said in the report that if the commission is provided with the adequate financial support, equipped with competent and fully disciplined human resources, and acts in accordance with the laws, the board is confident the MACC will be able to fulfill the high expectations placed on it by all parties and emerge as one of the most prominent anti-corruption institutions in the world.

“The biggest challenge is to rectify the negative perception of the MACC and of the problem of corruption in the country,” the report said.

“Its long-term goal should be to make the commission one of the leading anti-corruption bodies in the world and for Malaysia to be seen as a corruption-free country.”

Thus, the board proposed that MACC focuses on public communications, intelligence and investigations, prevention and community education.

“The financial allocation (of RM161,032,700) for the commission showed an increase in 2009 compared (to RM146,727,000) in 2008,” the report said.

“However, the allocation todate for 2010 decreased to RM156,845,500 whereas the allocation requested was RM324,114,492.

“Unless the MACC is provided with adequate budget and competent staffing, it will not be able to fulfill the great expectations and attain the high goals that have been set for it — that is, as the second National Key Results Area (NKRA) and raise the country’s ranking in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI).”

The board recommended that the Federal Constitution be amended to establish an Anti-Corruption Service Commission, which will be responsible, among others, for the appointment, confirmation and promotion of the members of the anti-corruption service.

“It will enable the commission to operate with greater autonomy and acquire as well as manage its human resources more efficiently,” the report said.

It said the rank of the chief commissioner should also be raised.

The board also said the MACC cannot carry out its responsibilities satisfactorily without the cooperation and assistance from all sectors. “Combating corruption is everyone’s responsibility and everyone has a shared responsibility to eradicate corruption,” it said.

“It has to be fully attentive to criticisms and suggestions. It also needs to act expeditiously in an independent and transparent manner in accordance with the law.”

It said the MACC only has the power to investigate, not prosecute. Curbing corruption is “not the task of the MACC alone”.

“Malaysia can only become a corruption-free country if the wider environment is rendered inimical to corruption. This environment includes the laws of the country, the administrative system and regulations, the political culture, corporate ethics as well as the values of the people,” it said.

The board proposed that a comprehensive research study be conducted to chart the anatomy of the corruption in the country, the roots of corrupt behaviour, and the most effective strategies and programmes to eliminate corruption.

“The study should also assess any corrupt elements associated with political funding and how far low wages contribute to corrupt practices,” it said.

The board also welcomed the announcement of the Whistleblowers Protection Act, which will be tabled in Parliament, because it will help strengthen the environment against corruption.