This posting has been delayed by a few days due to more exciting happenings, but here is it anyway.
On the witness protection programme, the PM wants the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to submit its proposal for the scheme so that the government may ‘fine-tune’ it before legislating an Act to empower the responsible body to manage the programme. On the necessity of the programme, he repeated the obvious, what DPM Najib had stated day before yesterday.
But he hedged his commitment to the proposal for the programme, stating that the government needs to weigh the pros and cons of the scheme, and if the cons outweigh the pros, then what’s the point of having such a setup.
And of course AAB being AAB, he hedged again within the previous hedging, stating that “Kita belum dapat pastikan dengan jelas keburukan dan kebaikannya.” (We haven’t yet ascertained fully the pros and cons of the programme).
AAB then revealed that previously the former Head of the ACA had already proposed the programme, because the ACA had received anonymous letters of complaints. The term used was ‘surat layang’, which in contemporary Malay carries a more nasty or mischievous connotation than just anonymous letter of complaint (or criticism), perhaps even of a malicious nature.
He admitted that’s the author of those complaints weren’t brave enough to sign their missive because they were worried that revealing their identity could imperil their safety. And he added that (the anonymity) has been precisely the case why the ACA couldn’t conduct their investigation.
That’s only partially true, but I find it hard to accept that the ACA in some selected cases couldn't even conduct a preliminary investigation based on tips by an anonymous letter, because if the information had touched on matters of importance, say, like the contract for PORR had been dodgily awarded, it should be able to suss out the grounds to see whether it should and could proceed further into a full blown investigation.
If the ACA insists on waiting until an informer provides them with solid evidence, chapter and verse, why then would we need the ACA? It would just be another Suhakam, unwilling to investigate 'certain' grounds. But that could explain why no one in Malaysia respects the ACA, which has been behaving like a piece of wood, waiting only for word from the boss to cudgel those not in favour.
But AAB’s most telling statement has been “Pada masa yang sama, menurutnya, ia akan dapat menghentikan penyebaran surat layang oleh pihak tertentu yang mengambil kesempatan memburuk-burukkan seseorang, termasuk pegawai dan pemimpin kerajaan."
Rough translation: “At the same time (of protecting the witnesses) the implementation of the witness protection programme will stop the circulation of such letters that exploits its anonymity to bad-mouth an individual, including officers and leaders of the government.”
Perhaps that has been the real motive of the whole proposal. Perhaps he’s anticipating a deluge of such surat layangs.