Reforms to MACC under way
KUALA LUMPUR, March 4, 2015:
The calls for a reform to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) are increasingly becoming a reality with draft proposals prepared on how the commission could become more independent.
One of the proposals was for the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Service Commission (ACSC) that would act as an oversight to the MACC.
This, according to the Malaysian Bar Council, would allow for better power in hiring and firing personnel, allowing the commission to have a greater say in recruitment policies.
Among the other four proposals included in the amendment to the existing Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission Act (MACC) 2009 is expanding the powers of the MACC to investigate public officials living beyond their means.
Bar Council vice-president Steven Thiru said this would require amendments to Section 36 of the MACC Act, among others.
“This means the commission should be given the power to investigate officials whenever there is suspicion they are living beyond their means and they may not even need to be linked to an existing investigation,” he told those attending a public consultation on the reforms, held at the Straits Trading Building here tonight.
Another important reform proposed was in terms of prosecution powers, whereby it was proposed that both the office of the Public Prosecutor and Attorney-General be separate.
In this, the proposal was to emulate practices by Hong Kong, where the A-G’s office was a political appointee charged with duties of the first legal officer to the crown.
There ,the Public Prosecutor was independent of the A-G and was solely responsible in deciding whether a prosecution should be brought in the public interest.
Outgoing Bar president Christopher Leong said in really allowing MACC to effectively combat corruption, a wider range of reforms was needed.
“Part of the proposals is to separate the office of the A-G from the public prosecutor because there is an inherent conflict in the two.
“The A-G is a political appointee and chief legal adviser to the government.
“In fact, in all civil suits, the A-G acts as representative to all members of government, including cabinet ministers.
“Wearing the hat of public prosecutor, they are in theory placed in the position to actually prosecute public servants including ministers if there is cause to do so. Therefore it should be split,” he explained.
In order to get these reforms in place, amendments to the Federal Constitution were necessary, which Leong said was possible.
He said the initiative to reform the MACC was suggested by MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed himself, who sought the help of the Bar in coming up with proposals.
“We know MACC is serious about reforms and the government is supportive of the MACC in this regard.
“Paul Low, of Transparency International, (now a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department) did say that the Cabinet approved proposed amendments to the Constitution, if needed,” he shared.
Speaking to The Rakyat Post after the event, Leong said as the government had shown its support, the ball was now in the Opposition’s court.
“I know that Pakatan has been told of these proposals and in general they are receptive but they did not say outright that they were supportive.
“One of the things to determine (if the reforms can be implemented) is whether there is enough support in Parliament.”
The draft proposals were a joint initiative by the Bar, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Idea), Centre to Combat Corruotion and Cronyism (C4) and Citizens Network for a Better Malaysia.