Respond to allegations against MACC
From Walter Sandosam
The recent resignation of an eminent academic (Terence Gomez) from one of the oversight panels of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is most disturbing, not to mention regrettable.
It does not bode well for the MACC, given that it was in relation to circumstances surrounding the chief commissioner.
While the MACC is an institution under the purview of the government, the oversight panels constitute prominent members of the public.
Their perceived “independence” is to provide a check-and-balance mechanism for the activities of the commission, which is charged with investigating bribery, corruption and abuse of power, as detailed in the MACC Act 2009.
It is contended on many fronts that corruption has become endemic and taken root rather extensively, hence making the fight against it a “jihad” to be taken seriously at all levels.
The MACC’s predecessor, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), apparently had not lived up to expectations, and had been with admonished for perceived selective investigations and lack of independence.
Thus, the oversight panels in the MACC have a role to play, as defined in the Act, and came into existence when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was prime minister.
MACC was modelled after the Hong Kong anti-graft agency, which had been successful in combating corruption.
Notwithstanding the inner workings of the MACC, the role and importance of the oversight panels to ensure the MACC is on an even keel cannot be understated.
As a member who served on two of the oversight panels, the corruption prevention and consultancy panel and an investigations panel, I can say the need to be able to maintain independence amid scrutiny from both the public at large and specific political and non-political groups was indeed a formidable challenge.
The current turn of events involving the resignation, purportedly on the allegation of a “deafening silence” in relation to issues brought up to the attention of the chairman of two of the oversight bodies, reflects that something is amiss in the proper working expected of these entities.
Those currently seated on these panels should remember that they are meant to represent the public and, at first reading, it appears that they have failed the public at large. This is indeed a rather sad state of events.
Whether the chain of events, as stated by Terence Gomez, has merit or not is best taken up at the correct forum. In the interim, the public has not heard of any rebuttal of the claims that have been highlighted.
Not providing a response reflects a lack of decorum, bordering on the abuse of power.
The check-and-balance systems are meant for a purpose. Negative publicity leading to incorrect perceptions should be avoided at all cost.
Those members of the public chosen for their eminence to sit on these advisory panels should not lose sight of the fact that their actions should be seen, and perceived to be seen, as acting in the best interests of the common man.
Anything less and they are deemed to have lost their independence, credibility and impartiality to be objective.
The fight against corruption is deeply compromised when persons or institutions charged with eradicating it are subjected to second-guessing as to their impartiality.
Walter Sandosam was an MACC oversight panel member (2009-2016).