Board agrees PAC report needs urgent attention
THE Malaysian Anti-Coruption Commission (MACC) is obliged to investigate former Transport Minister Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy and former Port Klang Authority (PKA) general manager Datin Paduka O.C. Phang, says MACC Panel of Prevention and Consultation chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam.
“Now that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) — through its probe and findings — has decided that Chan and Phang should be investigated, the MACC is obliged to follow suit by examining the PAC report — and finding out whether there are elements of corruption,” Ramon told Malay Mail yesterday.
The PAC on Wednesday recommended the MACC and police probe both Chan and Phang for their role in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project.
“It is only right and proper for the MACC, as an independent and objective institution, to take the PAC report seriously and initiate investigations as a matter of urgency,” said Ramon.
“The MACC has to go all out to stamp out corruption regardless of the position or status of the people implicated.”
However, so far, MACC has chosen to remain tight-lipped on whether it was going to investigate Chan and Phang.
Ramon said it was important for the MACC to show that it was as transparent as possible in pursuing this matter, to improve public perception and regain public support.
“The MACC cannot contribute meaningfully towards the prevention of corruption until the public feels confident that MACC will be fair and independent,” said Ramon.
Suhakam commissioner Tan Sri Simon Sipaun believes it would continue to be an uphill battle for the MACC to improve its public image, and pursuing the PKFZ matter would not make much difference at this stage.
“This is only at the investigation stage,” said Simon, who is also a member of the MACC advisory board. “Only after there is a court charge, and depending on the court’s verdict, then can there be a change in public perception,” he said.
Another MACC advisory board member, Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas, said that it needed to be first ascertained whether it is a case for the MACC or the police.
“The MACC cannot investigate this matter if it is a case of criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of funds or cheating, because those fall under the Penal Code and will be for the police to investigate,” said Megat Najmuddin.
“But if there are elements of corruption — as defined under the MACC Act — then MACC should definitely investigate,” he added.
Commenting on the public’s perception that the MACC only goes after “small fish” rather than “big fish”, Megat Najmuddin said that high profile cases were much more difficult to pursue.
“There is a lot of work required in going after high profile cases, and the MACC only has manpower of 1,600 nationwide, compared with the police whose manpower is over 100,000,” he said.
“It is made even more difficult when the evidence is weak and when witnesses are not willing to co-operate.
“The smaller cases are easier to tackle,” he added.
“But the people shouldn’t say that it is unimportant because these are the “in your face” corrupt practices that need to be stopped as they can turn pervasive.”
Agency tight-lipped about investigations
MALAYSIAN Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) remains tight-lipped about its investigations into the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project.
The anti-graft commission confirmed yesterday it was carrying out investigations in the PKFZ case, a day after the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recommended that MACC and police probe both former Transport Minister Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy and former Port Klang Authority (PKA) general manager Datin Paduka O.C Phang for criminal breach of trust over their roles in the PKFZ project.
In a statement released to the media yesterday, MACC said investigations were being carried out and the commission had already taken statements from witnesses involved in the case.
“MACC is only conducting investigations into elements of corruption such as the acceptance and giving of bribes, documents produced that contained false material claims and misuse of power under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009,” the statement said.
It said it would not be able to divulge information on developments in the case for fear it would affect ongoing investigations and that MACC still has to record more statements from witnesses.
However, it said the case would be investigated thoroughly and according to the law and there would be no attempt to protect any party.
When contacted, MACC deputy chief commissioner Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed refused to furnish additional details aside from what was stated in the two-paragraph statement. He also would not divulge who would be interviewed by MACC or whether it would include Chan and Phang. He also did not say if the agency would also investigate a legal firm and a quantity surveyor based on PAC’s recommendations.
He said he wished “to maintain (what was written) in the media statement”.
Meanwhile Chan, who is overseas, told an online news portal that he would cooperate with investigators upon his return.
Yesterday, the PAC in its report, asked the police and MACC to investigate, among others, Chan for issuing three letters of support for the project and Phang for three letters of undertaking that she issued, without prior approval from the Finance Ministry.
PAC said Phang failed to notify the government in time that PKA was unable to finance the project.
It also urged the authorities to investigate the appointment of Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd as developer, and the purchase of land and other matters that caused the failure of the billion ringgit project.