The number of arrests by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has increased over the last few years. PKR Investment and Trade Bureau Chief Wong Chen says it shows that MACC is more hardworking now.
“It is a positive progress and it shows that they are doing their job and I hope they will continue to their efforts in the arrests made,” says Wong.
“The recent case (Sabah Watergate), shows that they are not answering to any political influences and I hope this continues.”
He adds that this shows the MACC is serious in its job despite interference from other parties in selected cases.
According to the commission’s website, there were 701 arrests in 2012, but while this number dropped to 509 the following year. In 2014 the number of arrests increased to 552, followed by 841 in 2015.
Of the 841 offenders, 398 were civil servants. So far this year, 670 people have been arrested on suspicion of corrupt practices. The number included 323 civil servants. The highest number of arrests occurred in 2011 at 918.
Executive director of Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) Cynthia Gabriel says while it shows that the MACC is doing its job, its independence is still in question.
“Perhaps more people are starting to report corruption cases,” she says. “But the main point is to push for MACC’s independence and to act without fear and favour. Right now their hands are tied.”
Certain quarters are also questioning if these arrests would act as a deterrent since the MACC doesn’t have prosecution powers. It looks as though it would be more arrests and more investigation, but no prosecution, Gabriel says.
“It does make a difference, but it also varies between cases and depending on how politicised a case is and the nature of a case,” she adds.
Water Department Director, Ag Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib, and his deputy, Teo Chee Kong, were detained on Tuesday by the MACC over graft charges involving RM3.3bil worth of federal projects.
Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has categorically denied that the RM3.3bil in federal funds for water supply projects in Sabah was slated for his former ministry alone.
According to The Star, he expressed surprise at the allegations by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan that the projects allocated for the state since 2010 were linked to the Rural and Regional Development Ministry.
MACC is seen to be baring its teeth. This could help to alter public perception that it only goes after small fries instead of big fish.
Soo Wern Jun