Transparency International-Malaysia has welcomed the aggressive crackdown by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on graft in the public sector, but hoped that probes can be extended to high-profile politicians.
Its president Akhbar Satar said the Malaysian Corruption Barometer 2014 had indicated that political parties were the most corrupt bodies in Malaysia, followed by police and civil servants.
“Politicians were perceived the most corrupt by replacing the police who were in the previous year’s top spot. The findings from the survey points to the fact that the public do not see politicians as individuals with integrity or as transparent and accountable as they should be.
“MACC statistics show that only two politicians were arrested out of 670 total arrests in 2015 and only two of them were arrested until October 2016,” he pointed out.
Most of these cases, Akhbar said, are not likely to be high profile as they were not published in the media.
He added that in order for the MACC to gain and increase its credibility and public support and confidence, it must seriously eradicate corruption and strengthen its commitment to carry out its investigation in a transparent and professional manner without fear or favour.
He added that investigations on politicians should be conducted in all aspects of anti-corruption legislation – against those who live beyond their means and anti-money-laundering acts for money trail investigation, as this will deter others from being involved in corrupt practices.
“As such, those who are involved in the corrupt practice should be brought to justice,” he said, adding that politicians have been selected by the rakyat to serve them and they should not to betray that trust.
“However, there are many rakyat who are struggling to live and yet the corrupt politicians are living beyond their means with their lavish life-style and also owning luxurious homes in Malaysia and overseas. Politicians who are also the policy maker who pass the law and legislation should not break the law. Politicians should lead by example to the people,” said the TI-M president.
AG must be fair, not selective
Reminding that no one is above the law, Akhbar said the probe on politicians should be carried out seriously.
However, he said many may not be aware that the MACC does not have the power to initiate prosecution for offences of corrupt practices, as they only possess the power to investigate.
“It is not true that MACC has been selective in the prosecution especially those involving politicians. In Malaysia, only the attorney-general can decide on the prosecution.
“Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution expressly states that the attorney-general shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a syariah court, a native court, or a court martial,” he said.
Thus, Akhbar said the attorney-general (AG) must be fair in making purely non-selective decisions.
“His role should be apolitical and no one should be able to doubt decisions made in the interest of the nation. Judges should play a vital part by imposing maximum penalty to the accused once found guilty so that to curb repeat offenders and also to send out a strong message not to indulge in corruption.”