WITH the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) under fire over a theft case, an academic came to the agency’s defence saying unscrupulous politicians are to blame for the malaise.
“Let me simply this. If our public institutions are given independence to do their job professionally, these things would not have happened.
“So before we crucify the MACC, our political leaders must also take the blame for this. They vehemently refuse to give our Government agencies the legislative bite needed to carry out their jobs without fear and favour,” HELP University Faculty of Business, Economics and Accounting and Institute Crime and Criminology senior lecturer R Paneir Selvam told FocusM.
Yesterday, Singapore-based Straits Times reported that three MACC officers have been arrested for allegedly misappropriating funds connected to a case involving the country’s former spymaster.
The trio, who were detained last week, had allegedly stolen a portion of US$6 mil (RM25 mil) seized from the former director-general of the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO), Datuk Hasanah Abdul Hamid.
It was claimed that some of the stolen cash was replaced with counterfeit currency.
Both UMNO supreme council member Datuk Puad Zarkashi and DAP MP Gobind Singh Deo have questioned on why the MACC was investigating its own officers, as theft cases should come under police’s purview.
“First, this is a case involving the theft of case items. Cases of theft come under police jurisdiction. So why did MACC make the arrests? This is a matter involving MACC officers, we can’t ask MACC to probe itself.
“I ask that this case be investigated by an independent body that can show transparency in its investigations,” The Vibes reported Gobind as saying.
However, Paneir Selvam was unimpressed with the duo’s argument and blamed political leaders for setting a poor example in the first place.
“It’s because you leaders set the precedence. For example, when errant police officers break the law, you allow the police themselves to do an internal probe.
“But now when the MACC is doing its own internal probe on its errant officers, you people make noise. Why can’t they apply the same rules on themselves?” he asked.
Put your money, where your mouth is
On a general note, Paneir Selvam urged politicians to stop being hypocritical and provide enough legal powers to all public agencies to do their job professionally, without having to fear interference from politicians.
For starters, he urged the Government to provide the MACC with prosecution powers so that they would not have to rely on the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) for it.
“Sometimes, even the AG gets pressured by politicians. So, it’s best if the MACC is given its own prosecutorial powers and place the agency under the Parliament, unlike now where it is parked under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
“Can you imagine? These officers put everything on the line to investigate certain individuals, only to get the cases dropped by the AG.
“Do you know how it demoralises the officers? Did anyone do a psychological evaluation on these officials on how such things affect their mental health? Maybe, some would have felt that it was better to join the ‘corrupt bandwagon’ as their honest work goes unappreciated,” Paneir Selvam opined.
He cited the example of the Indonesian anti-graft body, Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi Republik Indonesia (KPK), or Corruption Eradication Commission, where it is independent of the Executive’s reach.
As for punishing bad apples in Government agencies, Paneir Selvam said the Government should establish an independent ombudsman body, with far-reaching powers to investigate and prosecute errant officers across the board.
“Until our Government acknowledges that corruption in Malaysia has become a serious problem and make the necessary reforms to our institutions, rest assured we will hear such cases often,” he concluded. – Sept 21, 2021.