Little Napoleons at work???
A recent email by the MACC (Malaysian Anti Corruption Agency) secretariat to 33 of the 42 Advisory Panel members has grown into a full blown storm and is apparently set to create a ruckus in the days and weeks ahead.
The email solicited their feedback on certain media comments made by two outspoken Advisory Panel members – Robert Phang and Ramon Navaratnam.
The 42 members of the Advisory Panel are reportedly united in their stand that the secretariat has been “kurang ajar” (ill-mannered) and does not seem to know its place in the MACC scheme of things.
“It was really unbecoming of the secretariat to poll the Advisory Panel members in this way. Are they trying to divide us and pit us against each other?” said philanthropist and Social Care Foundation founder Phang (left), a member of the MACC Advisory Panel, in an exclusive interview.
“This is like the tail wagging the dog,” he added.
“Who serves who? Are we subservient to the secretariat or the MACC itself? We are not.”
Phang said he was outraged and humiliated by the secretariat secret poll conducted on him and Ramon on six media statements attributed to them.
The media statements were issued in the wake of the death under mysterious circumstances of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock while in the custody of the MACC recently.
“Now that the Teoh Beng Hock inquest is on, I respect that and I have held my peace on the tragedy,” explained Phang.
Advisory Panel not subservient to MACC
“Now what is going to happen as a result of the secretariat’s email poll is that every politician in the country is going to jump on the MACC bandwagon.
“Do we really need this sort of attention? We will be side-tracking from the inquest and the proposed Royal Commission of Inquiry on the MACC.”
Phang is convinced that there seems to be some sort of misconception within the MACC itself that the Advisory Panel members report to them and are subservient to them.
He said that this was evident from the fact that even the MACC and certainly the secretariat, which is supposed to serve the Advisory Panel, takes a “high-and-mighty attitude” and does not respect the independence of the Advisory Panel.
“As advisors, we are duty-bound to offer our advice without fear or favour. We are not getting anything out of this. We are here to serve the country. If someone doesn’t like our advice, why have an Advisory Panel?”
Even so, Phang hastened to clarify that “most of the MACC officers are professional and diligent in carrying out their tasks. That much I must grant them.”
Phang disclosed that he plans to call for a special meeting of the Advisory Panel, its secretariat and the MACC “to thrash out the grey areas” and call for an internal inquiry into the email.
He wants to know who authorised the email “and some heads must roll so that a dangerous precedent will not be set”.
“From the manner of the email, it almost seems as if Ramon and I are on trial conducted by our peers and masterminded by the secretariat,” said Phang.
“Is this the sort of activity that the secretariat should be taking upon itself?”
Role and function must be defined
Phang also feels that there is a need to identify the role and functions of the Advisory Panel “although as men of integrity, all the Advisory Panel members know where they stand with regards to the MACC and the war against corruption in Malaysia”.
“We have a sort of unwritten code of ethics and practice it among ourselves. As the great author Oscar Sanchez once wrote: ‘Even if a small part of the truth is hidden, a great lie may be born’.” explained Phang.
“The MACC and the secretariat itself, however, seems to be moving on a different track altogether. We need to bridge this gap once and for all.”
Phang added that he will also be sounding out other Advisory Panel members informally in order to forge a consensus on the agenda for the proposed special meeting.
“Those that I have already talked to are with me on this including Ramon (left). He’s mad as hell over the email. We need to remain united on this,” said Phang.
“It will have to be a closed-door meeting and we may not come to any conclusion in just one sitting.”
Phang reiterated that he would not resign from the Advisory Panel despite his disappointment with the MACC and the secretariat.
“Nothing can be achieved by resigning or running away,” said Phang.
“We are here because we feel we can make a difference. But the most important thing is that all members of the Advisory Panel need to remain united and take a common stand on issues that affect the MACC, the secretariat and the war against corruption in Malaysia. This is my sincere and silent reminder to them.”
Ex-TI chief savages MACC as a political tool
Joe Fernandez . Aug 13, 09 . 10:28am
Former Transparency International (TI) Malaysia president Tunku Abdul Aziz joined in the growing chorus of voices questioning the Malaysian Anti Corruption Agency’s conduct in the wake of a secret e-mail poll of its own advisors.
“The secret e-mail poll of MACC advisory panel members Robert Phang and Ramon Navaratnam by the secretariat to the advisory panel members itself, is the pits,” said Tunku Aziz (below).
“It underlines the fact that the MACC is a political tool of the prime minister. The directive for the poll must have come from the very top of the MACC or at least at the number two level.
“This much I’m very sure. Why is the secretariat which is supposed to serve the advisory panel taking orders from the MACC?” asked Tunku Aziz
“I would not just describe the secretariat as kurang ajar (ill-mannered), as Robert has done, but say that they are biadap (disrespectful) as well.
It’s a breach of basic courtesy and good faith. It’s unpardonable to behave in such a manner towards men of the utmost integrity, and who contribute so much in the war against corruption in Malaysia.”
Injudicious use of power
The action of the secretariat in conducting the secret e-mail poll, added Tunku, gives credence to the perception that MACC is using its powers unwisely and with impunity.
He said he was not surprised that the media statements by Phang and Navaratnam rang alarm bells at the MACC, and with good reasons too.
Philanthropist and Social Care Foundation founder Phang (left) said 20 members of the advisory panel had urged the MACC to look into negative perceptions of the body, and improve its public relations skills by holding weekly media briefings.
Phang also said that advisory panel members were in favour of the proposed Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe MACC’s internal mechanisms interrogation procedures.
Navaratnam urged members of the public to write letters of complaints to the MACC over its performance, and his statements casting doubts on the competence of the anti-corruption body has not gone down well.
Navaratnam also admitted in an interview with national news agency, Bernama, that it was becoming increasingly difficult to remain a member of the MACC advisory panel.
As a consequence of their views to the media, the secretariat to the MACC advisory panel took it upon itself to conduct the secret poll by e-mail on the duo.
MACC must fulfill two criteria
“We can see from the action of the secretariat that the public perception of the MACC as carried by numerous blogs and the alternative media is totally justified,” said the Tunku Aziz.
“Here, we have a picture of the MACC continuously shooting itself in the foot when not adding fuel to the fire.”
“Corruption should not be politicised but this is the sad fact in the war against graft in Malaysia.”
Tunku Aziz hopes to see heads roll at the secretariat as well as at the MACC over the e-mail poll but would not be surprised if nothing is done to discipline the errant parties.
“The issue of where the MACC and the secretariat stands vis-à-vis the various committees of the advisory panel needs to be resolved,” he said.
MACC’s problems stem from the fact that it’s neither independent nor credible as an institution, although it claims to have patterned itself after its famous counterpart in Hong Kong.
Tunku Aziz stressed that the MACC must fulfill two criteria if it is to be accepted by Malaysians i.e. it must report to a select all-party parliamentary committee and not to the prime minister as at present.
“Unless the two criteria are met, the members of the advisory panel are simply wasting their time at the MACC,” he said.
“These are all men of integrity serving the country but what can you do when the MACC is beholden to the prime minister and takes orders from him?