Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission needs to grow a spine and really stand up to corruption.

I had asked in Parliament why the MACC had announced in June that it would not be carrying out investigations regarding the misappropriation of funds and abuse of power in the 1MDB scandal.
Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan apakah sebabnya Ketua Pesuruhjaya Suruhanjaya Pencegah Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) mengumumkan pada bulan Jun 2017 bahawa pihak SPRM tidak akan menjalankan siasatan ke atas ke penyelewengan dan penyalahgunaan kuasa dalam skandal 1MDB?

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in-charge of Integrity, Datuk Paul Low replied on 1 November that “investigations weren’t carried out because of existing investigations being done by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Bank Negara and the Police.”

There could not be a more shameless and irresponsible reply from the Minister and the Government.

The PAC – which barely scratched the surface of the 1MDB scandal, has no prosecutorial powers.  Bank Negara Malaysia, on the other hand, was investigating 1MDB purely from the Financial Services Act and certainly did not deal with the parties who had profited from the scandal. 

At the same time, while the Police may have been investigating the criminal elements in 1MDB, the MACC has powers, laws and jurisdictions which are completely different from the Police to tackle corruption cases.

That was the whole point of the Parliament passing the MACC Act in the first place, so that there is a dedicated and independent commission to tackle the scourge of corruption and not let the burden be shouldered by the Royal Malaysian Police. What type “independent commission” worth its salt is MACC, if it leaves investigations, especially a scandal of such scale to other agencies?

In January this year, MACC commissioner Datuk Dzulkifly Ahmad warned corrupt politicians to “be careful”. He said he wasn’t afraid of protected individuals and would launch investigations without fear or favour. “Just you wait,” he had warned politicians.

Why is the MACC and Datuk Dzulkifly Ahmad, after all its showboating, so afraid of investigating the country’s biggest and most blatant corruption scandal?

Malaysians have been waiting long for MACC to launch its investigations into 1MDB especially after similar investigations have already begun in the US, Switzerland and Singapore. Just this weekend, even 1MDB-linked Prince Turki of Saudi Arabia was hauled up as part of an anti-corruption sweep in his own Kingdom.

In Malaysia, multiple reports have been lodged with the MACC regarding the 1MDB scandal. These included reports filed in December 2014 by then UMNO Batu Kawan Division Deputy Chief Datuk Khairuddin Abu Hassan and more recently, a Pakatan Harapan Youth-linked NGO in July this year.   Hence it is a serious breach of MACC’s duty for failing to look into complaints of corruption.

These submitted reports were to be evaluated before the Commission’s Information Evaluation Committee to determine whether there were elements of corruption or not. If elements of corruption are found, it is imperative that an MACC investigation is opened before being referred to the AG for legal prosecution.

Was the above process conveniently ignored in MACC’s special treatment for 1MDB?  Was this a condition for Datuk Dzulkifly Ahmad to be rapidly promoted to be appointed, less than 2 years ago, to be the Chief Commissioner in the first place?

It is preposterous for an independent commission like MACC to pass on its investigation to other agencies. Each authority has a different mandate to investigate, so it is entirely cowardly for MACC to turn a blind eye and let other agencies look into it.

Until the MACC finally grows a spine and properly considers reports against 1MDB, the commissioner's boastful warnings will remain in Malaysians’ eyes as baseless rhetoric.
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