66 years after the Federation of Malaya gained independence from British imperialism, and 60 years after the formation of Malaysia with the inclusion of Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore within the Federation, Malaysia today remains a fledgling democracy. After decades of single-party rule and numerous laws passed and misused, the nation today has a lot to improved on in order to ensure its peoples’ rights and interests are safeguarded. Institutions must be reformed, and systems of checks and balances must be implemented.
In conjunction with the 66th Merdeka Day, the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) wishes to explain 3 key reforms that Malaysia needs urgently in order for national governance, transparency and accountability to be improved:
- Increasing accountability measures for the leaders of our nations. Currently, the guidelines for how civil service, politicians, and Ministers are supposed to conduct their functions are limited in their scope which opens the avenue for corruption to take place especially given that many of these individuals have unchecked power, especially within the realm of public procurement.
Hence, the legislation of a Procurement Act, along with asset declaration laws, ministerial codes of conduct, and laws to govern political appointments to government-linked companies (GLCs) and statutory bodies are imperative. On top of that, there is a pressing need for a Political Financing Act to regulate and monitor how politicians and political parties receive their funding so that it does not remain vulnerable to corruption.
- Ensuring the independence of key oversight bodies, such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC), and the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC). Currently, the members of these commissions are selected by the Prime Minister, which leads to a conflict of interest as the PM leads the same administration that these bodies are supposed to oversee. Instead, they must be placed under the administration of Parliament, and report directly to Parliament as well. Of utmost importance is also the establishment of an independent Ombudsman who has powers to investigate government maladministration and is empowered to compel disciplinary action.
- Ensuring separation of powers in the three branches of government. This can be achieved through the separation of the roles of the Attorney General and the Public Prosecutor, as opposed to its current state where the roles of both are retained in a single individual serving under the Prime Minister, where prosecutions can be influenced by the Executive.
Besides that, the Parliamentary Service should be reinstated, which would be separate from the existing public services under the Executive branch of government. This would enable Parliament to reclaim its independence and autonomy to manage its own affairs separately from the Executive.
C4 Center wishes to instil hope in you, fellow Malaysians, that a better Malaysia is possible when we work together.
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