In the eyes of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) it recorded one of its largest ever graft case seizures, totaling RM112 million, sadly however, its critics say the anti-corruption body needs to do much more than the seizing to convince the public of its improved efficiency.
They say that the recent Sabah Water Department seizure could just be another publicity stunt to prove to Malaysians that the MACC is hard at work.
However, its earlier battered reputation of going after only small fishes precedes its actions.
As much as they should be commended over a big corruption bust that involves civil servants such as the Sabah bust, it has also raised questions to as to why the MACC had only caught on to the corruption activities now after millions have been swindled and stashed at home?
Surely the entire corruption scheme surely would have taken some time to brew.
Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel says that MACC should be commended for having busted a high profile case and especially involving civil servants but if they are expecting to restore the public’s confidence of their efficiency, this isn’t enough.
“It falls back to the proposal for the need of MACC to have powers to prosecute. They can bring in as many cases, investigate as many people but if in the end the Attorney-General decides not to prosecute, it is back to square one,” says Gabriel.
She adds that the MACC needs to be doing their jobs without political interference as it is not the case at present.
“They will be political hindrances as long as they are not independent from the government.
“It still boils back to system reforms and that is the only way that then MACC will be able to carry out its responsibilities to its optimum levels,” she adds.
Meanwhile, Selangor Bar Chairman Salim Bashir says MACC should be commended for a good job but to not relate prosecution powers to the matter.
“Whether or not they have prosecution powers it is an entirely separate matter. They (MACC) are just doing their job, whether or not they have prosecution powers.
“It is the same as the police, they too do not prosecution powers but they still need to do their jobs. As far as this concern they are doing their job,” says Salim.
Salim adds that whether or not the MACC has prosecution powers would not affect their effectiveness as there have many cases brought in by the commission that has been prosecuted.
Nine mostly luxury vehicles, expensive watches, jewellery and 94 high-end handbags were also recovered from the homes and offices of the department’s director and his deputy.
The cash – RM45mil seized from the director and RM7.5mil from his deputy – was found stashed inside safes, cupboards, drawers and also a car boot, according to the MACC.
Also seized was RM1.18mil in over half-a-dozen foreign currencies.
The two senior state civil officers were arrested yesterday and remanded for a week for investigations into alleged graft involving RM3.3bil worth of federal projects.
Soo Wern Jun