MACC stumbled, struggled and strangulated itself

Its chief wanted Malaysians to believe that the anti-corruption body is “independent, transparent and professional”. Yet, so far, the MACC has failed to convince a highly sceptical public, observes Martin Jalleh

With the dawn of a new year the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) marked its first anniversary as a commission. But there was little to celebrate. Abu Kassim Mohamed was appointed the new Chief Commissioner. New resolutions were made by the MACC to redeem itself and restore public confidence.

They even came up with a new slogan: ‘Let’s Together Change: Fight Corruption’. This was followed by stirring speeches and soul-baring interviews of the MACC’s supremo, who asked the public to give him the benefit of the doubt!

The public remained sceptical! Judging from the way things turned out (as seen below), they were justified in having serious doubts about the ‘new’ MACC and its chief.

Shot in the foot

But even before Abu Kassim could settle down and show some semblance of seriousness, his boys indicated that it was going to be business as usual! On the first day of 2010, two MACC officers lodged police reports against opposition newspaper Suara Keadilan and Thai forensic expert Dr Pornthip on matters related to the Teoh Beng Hock inquest.

“Certainly it is not a good way to start the year. Already people shudder at the mention of the MACC. Oh my God! More selective prosecution! What’s new at the MACC? Nothing has changed. Such is the perception,” commented Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, a Pas central working committee member.

On 8 Feburary 2010, Abu Kassim conceded that the police reports were a “shot in the foot”. He claimed that he did not know about the reports, had asked the AG (about it), and the latter said “every (MACC) officer has the right to make a police report”.

He added: “I don’t really understand why a report was made against Pornthip”. Neither do we, Abu.

Farcical file on Najib

On 23 May 2010, Abu Kassim very dramatically revealed that the commission had opened a file into PM Najib Abdul Razak’s controversial offer (made on the eve of the Sibu by-election) of RM5 million for flood-mitigation projects in Rejang Park, provided the BN candidate was elected.

He said: “Yes, we have received complaints from several quarters during the by-election. So we have started investigating. We will investigate any party. We have two (complaints), one in Hulu Selangor… and [another in] Sibu.”

MACC investigations director Mustafar Ali said that the MACC “may consider calling Najib in for investigation. Not at the moment, but if need be of course we will call whoever [was relevant] to testify”. Was the MACC thinking of regaining public confidence by taking the rakyat for a ride?

Sly sympathy

In an unusual move on Teoh Beng Hock’s first-year death anniversary (16 July 2010) the MACC head issued a statement expressing his sympathy for the family and pledged he will not “compromise or cover up the actions of any culprit or anyone found potentially involved in the death of Teoh Beng Hock”.

The open letter to the grief-stricken family backfired. The family questioned the sincerity of Abu Kassim especially on why the condolence statement was only issued in Mandarin and consequently only given coverage in the Chinese-language media.

Further, the year-late condolence was at variance with the stance adopted by the MACC counsel Abdul Razak Musa at the inquest where he was clearly acting on the MACC’s instruction that Teoh Beng Hock had committed suicide.

MACC chickened out

In June, the MACC made a U-turn at the eleventh hour on plans to meet private investigator, P Balasubramaniam, in London to record his statement on a 2008 statutory declaration that implicated PM Najib Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor and their friend Razak Baginda in the Altantuya murder and submarines-graft case.

In a bid to help the MACC counter the storm of criticism that erupted since the MACC’s announcement that it had been advised by the A-G not to go, MACC adviser Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas came up with the ludicrous: “It is ridiculous to go over there. The process will involve a lot of cost and a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

In a stinging response to the MACC, Americk Sidhu, Bala’s lawyer, said: “This turn of events has certainly destroyed what little credibility the MACC had left and has confirmed the suspicions held by most right thinking members of society that they are a body existing solely to protect the interests of the powers that be…

“Let me add that whatever advice the MACC may have received from the Attorney General’s chambers is highly suspect and devoid of any legal basis, but instead smacks of a hastily assembled concoction of very weak excuses designed to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation for those who are obviously in control and who are able to hijack the machinations of the State and to manipulate the system to suit their own illegitimate agendas.”

Press must “protect” MACC from itself!

On 21 July 2010, the MACC operations review panel said that “the press has been unfair in its coverage of the MACC so far. It should in fact “protect” the anti-graft body in order to encourage foreign direct investment into the country” (The Malaysian Insider).

Why blame the press, especially when the MACC does not do what it should be doing? Why shoot the messenger when the MACC is in a mess? There is really no need for the MACC to fear bad press. But it should be wary of itself! Tunku Abdul Aziz put this perfectly: “The MACC is its own worst enemy!”

MACC ‘commits suicide’

On 18 August 2010, the MACC very tragically “committed suicide” during the cross-examination of world-renowned Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand by its lawyer Abdul Razak in the Teoh Beng Hock’s Inquest.

He helped kill the very little that was left of the MACC’s own integrity and credibility. Its public image plunged to the very depths with the help of Abdul Razak. He had at first advocated self-strangulation. He even demonstrated how it could be done.

He then asked Dr Pornthip if she had any experience jumping off a building! When that failed, the very experienced lawyer of 24 years assisted the Commission to take a wild leap out of the window of logic, common sense and civility.


In October 2010, MACC deputy chief Mohd Shukri Abdull revealed that “moles in the MACC were disrupting the operations of the anti-graft body. They must be weeded out quickly as they were also a threat to national security”. The commission had lodged a police report on 25 September after it discovered that documents on investigations into several VIPs had appeared on blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK)’s Malaysia Today news portal.

The public considers RPK a very good “mole” – the nation’s best and boldest whistle-blower! What was his motive of publishing those documents? Blogger Din Merican explains the logic behind RPK’s “leaks” very clearly: “The MACC’s response has been pathetic. Day by day, RPK is showing that the MACC is not serious about eradicating corruption. Day by day, the MACC is shown to have resiled on its own oath and motto.

“Day by day, MACC is seen as just being another tool of the BN to cover up its own excesses. Day by day, the organs of government are shown to be apparatus of abuses and oppressions. Day by day, the PDRM and the MACC are seen as just tools by the Attorney General Gani Patail to further his own interests.”