Adverse views of MACC from its own Advisory Panel

Malaysiakini

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has gathered some adverse views from its own 42-member Advisory Panel following the death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock.

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The views were sought by email in recent days by the secretariat from 33 members of its Advisory Panel in the wake of at least six media statements made by panel members Ramon Navaratnam and Robert Phang.

The MACC felt that their views were not supportive of the establishment of the anti-coreruption body and wanted to know the views of other panel members on the issue.

It is learnt that not everyone has responded so far, and of the handful who did, not even one panel member has been critical of Navaratnam or Phang.

Panel member Simon Sipaun, one of those who responded, did not see anything wrong with the media statements of the “errant duo” which were not supportive of MACC.

He felt that the duo were generally supportive of the MACC and its stated objectives despite having deep misgivings on the road travelled so far.

“They were merely expressing their human response to the tragic incident. A young life had been needlessly lost. The victim could have been yourself, son, brother, relative or friend. How would you have felt?” asked Sipaun in his reply to the secretariat.

“He was only a witness and not a suspect and yet he was questioned from 5pm on a certain day to 3.45am on another day, according to newspaper reports.”

Sipaun added that even if MACC had the power, it did not convey the impression that it was wisely used.

“I understand that under the lock-up rules, even a detainee must be returned to his cell by 7pm and questioning can only be resumed on the following day,” noted Sipaun, who is also the vice-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

‘Six offending articles’

The email from the secretariat to Sipaun and other panel members, made reference to several media statements made by Ramon and Phang on Teoh’s death. Copies of six “offending articles” were attached.

“We at MACC would like to seek your opinion on comments made by both Tan Sri (Ramon and Phang) and which are seen as not fully supportive towards the establishment of the MACC. Hoping to hear from you soon,” read the email in English.

Sipaun himself has been quoted by various media as saying that he was unhappy over Teoh’s death and expressed “no surprise” if some members of the Advisory Panel quit in protest.

Sipaun had clarified that he was speaking as a member of Suhakam and not in his capacity as a member of the MACC Advisory Panel.

Panel members were told at their first meeting, according to Sipaun, that they are barred from making media statements on the MACC.

Yong Poh Kon of Royal Selangor Pewter was another panel member who was equally critical in his response to MACC. He was away in Europe when he received the email from the secretariat.

Like Sipaun, he did not think that the media statements by Ramon and Phang indicated a lack of their support for the MACC.

Yong began by stressing that both MACC and its various oversight committees had the same overall goal of reducing corruption in the country but detected “a divergence in opinion on how it is to be achieved.”

“We must get the support and confidence of the public to do this (combat corruption),” responded Yong. “In Hong Kong, I believe that 97 percent of the population has confidence in the IACC (Hong Kong anti-corruption body). The same cannot be said of the ACA (Anti Corruption Agency) and now the MACC.”

Yong noted that the Advisory Panel has a role to offer views to ensure that most MACC priorities are correct, the methods fair and that overall it gains the confidence of the public.

He went on to add that “to achieve this would need work by all members and an attitudinal and culture change in the MACC itself”.

Why is MACC wasting time trying to find out whether all 42 advisory panel members share adverse opinions about MACC when it should be giving top priority to end gross abuses and malpractices to restore public confidence?

Lim Kit Siang

Why is the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) wasting time trying to find out whether all the 42 MACC advisory panel members share adverse opinions about the MACC following the mysterious death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock when it should be giving top priority to end gross abuses and malpractices to restore public confidence in it as Malaysia’s version of Hong Kong-style Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC)?

It is reported by Malaysiakini today that emails had been sent out recently by the secretariat to 33 members of the MACC Advisory Panel following six “offending” media statements made by panel members Ramon Navaratnam and Robert Phang.

The MACC wanted the views of the other panel members as it felt that the views of the two “were not supportive of the establishment of the anti-corruption body and wanted to know the views of other panel members on the issue”.

MACC is now run by narrow-minded and bigoted people who equate criticisms of MACC failings as being anti-MACC.

Malaysiakini reported that not everyone has responded so far, and of the handful who did, not even one panel member has been critical of Navaratnam or Phang.

Panel members Simon Sipaun and Yong Poh Kon were mentioned in the Malaysiakini report as members who were “equally critical” in their response to the MACC.

I support Yong’s view that the Advisory Panel has “a role to offer views to ensure that most MACC priorities are correct, the methods fair and that overall it gains the confidence of the public”; and that “to achieve this would need work by all members and an attitudinal and culture change in the MACC itself”.

Stressing the need to get the support and confidence of the public to fight corruption,Yong said he believed that in Hong Kong, 97 percent of the population has confidence in the IACC and that the same cannot be said of the MACC.

Two weeks ago, in a Home Ministry website opinion poll on the police, 97% of those polled felt unsafe because of the high crime rate with only 1% feeling safe.

A Prime Minister’s Office website opinion poll for the MACC could be worse, with an even higher percentage than 97% expressing lack of confidence in MACC to wage an independent and professional war against corruption!

The top priority of MACC is to restore public confidence in its efficacy, independence and professionalism in the battle against corruption instead of trying to find out whether all the MACC Advisory Panels share the same criticisms as Navaratnam and Phang.

What will MACC do after the email views? Launch a witch-hunt to persecute and drum Navaratnam and Phang out of the Advisory Panels? Is MACC next going to sack Sipaun and Yong from the Advisory Panels as well?

The MACC should realise, swiftly and immediately, that in a matter of seven months of its operation from 1st January 2009, it had plunged the anti-corruption agency into a crisis of confidence which is unprecedented in the 41-year history of its predecessor, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) from 1967 to 2008 because of four primary reasons:

  • The mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock at the MACC headquarters on July 16, 2009 with overwhelming public opinion rejecting the theory that Teoh had committed suicide by plunging from the 14th MACC Headquarters at Plaza Masalam;
  • The failure of MACC in the past seven months to go after the “ikan yus” but only going after the “ikan bilis”;
  • Playing the catspaw of Umno and Barisan Nasional to declare war on Pakatan Rakyat instead of declaring war on corruption; and
  • The statement by the MACC Chief Commissioner, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said that as far as the MACC is concerned, there is no difference between corruption involving a few ringgit and corruption involving a few hundred millions of ringgit! (China Press 27th July 2009).

Instead of MACC quizzing the members of the Advisory Panel, it should be the various Advisory Panels which should be quizzing the MACC Chief Commissioner and officers to explain why MACC has plunged into its worse nadir of public confidence when even compared with ACA and in particular, the above-mentioned four factors resulting in the loss of public confidence in the MACC.

In fact the Advisory Panels should hold emergency meetings to demand that the MACC should halt its deviation and betrayal of its statutory objectives in the MACC Act by demanding an immediate halt of its war against Pakatan Rakyat – and to return to its original objective to declare war on corruption.

All members of the Advisory Panels must not only answer to their conscience but also to the Malaysian public why they have allowed the MACC to get out of control of all statutory and legal checks-and-balance as to become a catspaw of Umno and BN to go on a rampage against the Pakatan Rakyat.

I will demand in Parliament an accounting by all the MACC Advisory Panels as to what they have done to arrest and check the MACC from betraying its statutory objectives.

The various MACC Advisory Panel composition are as follows:

Anti-Corruption Advisory Board members

  • Abdul Hamid Mohamad
  • Amar Hamid Bugo
  • Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan
  • Mohamed Jawhar Hassan
  • Simon Sipaun
  • Zaiton Zawiyah Puteh
  • Rashpal Singh Jeswant Singh
  • Yong Poh Kon
  • Anwar Fazal
  • Dr Khoo Kay Kim
  • Chelvarajah Ramasamy Reddiar

Special committee on corruption

  • Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad
  • Razali Ibrahim
  • Abdul Rahman Dahlan
  • Dr Tan Seng Giaw
  • Salahuddin Ayub
  • Zamri Yusuf
  • Armani Mahirudin

Complaints committee

  • Mohd Nor Abdullah
  • Muhammad Mohd Noor
  • Wan Abdul Wahab Abdullah
  • Chooi Mun Sau
  • Ravindran V Muthu

Operations review panel

  • Dr Hadenan Abdul Jalil
  • Cecil Abraham
  • Nik Mohd Hasyudeen Yusoff
  • Walter Sandosam
  • Aminah Pit Abd Raman
  • Md Hamzah Md Kassim
  • Dr Syed Noh Syed Ahmad

Corruption consultation and prevention panel

  • Ramon Navaratnam
  • Dr Abdul Rahman Embong
  • Dr Zainal Abidin Abdul Majid
  • David Chua
  • Wong Chun Wai
  • Kamaruddin Zakaria
  • Nordin Kardi
  • Prof Dr Ishak Tambi Kechik
  • Azman Ujang
  • Anis Yusal Yusoff
  • Robert Phang Miow Sin

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