Coverage by: News Straits Times (NST)
KUALA LUMPUR: The move by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to prioritise busting large-scale graft has been considered a step in the right direction by anti-graft watchdogs.
This, they said, after weighing on MACC’s limited resources and manpower which could be properly focused on investigating these big cases, allowing for shorter investigation times.
Malaysian Corruption Watch (MCW) president Jais Abdul Karim said that focusing on big cases may help improve public trust with the shortened investigation time.
He said the people have been looking forward to seeing the big sharks given more attention as their crimes have a massive impact on the country.
“As of now, such big cases might take MACC six to 12 months to complete its investigation. Therefore, by beefing up its efforts and focusing on large-scale cases, it will be able to handle them more effectively in a shorter period.
“In Indonesia, their graft buster will investigate cases involving more than 10 million Indonesian rupiah (RM3030.49), while anything below it will be handed to the police. The same for Malaysian police who also have the authority to investigate cases involving power abuse or corruption.
“This is why it is suitable for MACC, bearing in mind their limited investigating officers, to shift its focus to cases involving high-profile names that cause huge leakage and losses to the country,” he told the New Straits Times.
He said cooperation between MACC and other relevant agencies is also necessary to obtain concrete and clear evidence before prosecuting the suspects.
“They must discuss amongst themselves regarding the issue of conflict of interest to ensure that every suspect will not be tolerated with.
“I believe that MACC is also obtaining inputs from the community to enhance their anti-corruption strategies.
Jais added that the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-corruption (GIACC) which is now under MACC is preparing its National Anti-Corruption Plan for the year 2024-2026 that aims for a more effective measure to combat corruption in the country.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) president Dr Muhammad Mohan said that due to the commission’s manpower, it is more feasible for the graft busters to concentrate on tackling large graft cases.
“The large-scale graft cases involve huge amounts of money embezzled and may involve high-ranking officials as we saw in previous cases.
“Thus, it is important to focus on the bigger corruption cases where MACC were successful in bringing charges against high-ranking officials and managed to recover and repatriate large amounts of money like that of the 1MDB case.
“The money repatriated is the people’s money and it belongs to Malaysians,” he said.
He added that the move by MACC is not easy and that the public must appreciate the work done in collaboration with other agencies.
Meanwhile, the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Centre) chief executive officer Pushpan Murugiah said that the MACC’s move is lauded as cases involving public interest must be made a priority.
“There is a need to increase enforcement of corruption, not only grand corruption.
“We also need to look at grand corruption that deals with corrupt officials and politicians, not just syndicate and cartel, although at times there may be a nexus between them.
“Therefore, we need a truly independent MACC.”
He also added that there is a need to look at expanding corruption offences for enablers of corruption such as cronyism and conflict of interest.
Commenting on MACC’s negotiation for the implementation of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) mechanism within the MACC Act, he said that conditions must be set in its execution.
“Deferred Prosecution Agreements should only be allowed for corporations and not individuals. The reason is, that it may take too long and difficult to investigate and charge companies, where else do we have laws to address individual culpability?
“This must come with the condition that the corporate entity must admit to the wrongdoing and take steps to make changes to improve their governance and anti-corruption policies,” he said.
Yesterday, MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki said that the commission is intensifying efforts to bust large-scale syndicated crimes and repatriate government funds that have been syphoned off.
He said while the graft-busters would investigate all reported cases, grand corruption was its immediate priority.