24 February, 2009

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) - fair and professional !

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has urged everyone to accept the decision of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to close 45 cases of political corruption against Umno leaders due to the lack of concrete evidence.

The Prime Minister and Umno president said the MACC was more capable and its investigations were more thorough compared to the investigations carried out by Umno Disciplinary Board.

"If the MACC has closed the cases why should the (Umno) Disciplinary Board continue (with the investigation). But the matter must be decided by the Disciplinary Board.

"But in my opinion, if the matter has been referred to the MACC, and the ACA (Anti-Corruption Agency) has decided that there is no case, we should accept the decision,"

A newspaper report today quoted sources from the MACC as saying that 45 of the 90 cases of political corruption involving Umno leaders received by the Commission had been closed due to lack of concrete evidence.

The sources also said that the MACC could not file a complete and strong case because the complainants only submitted a general complaints without evidence to support their case.

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said MACC has to be fair and professional, and seen to be so, in all its dealings.

As such he hoped that each and every officer of the MACC regardless of position or rank, would carry out their duties to the highest standard of professionalism.

In this context, Abdullah stressed that dedication, impartiality and fairness must be part and parcel of their job as anti-corruption officers.

"In that sense, your conduct, while on duty or even off duty, must always be beyond reproach and in conformity with the laws of the land. If not, all our efforts thus far to implement institutional reforms may come to naught," he said.

Stressing the importance of the MACC in carrying out its duties without fear or favour, Abdullah said that indeed much of the success or failure of the commission depended on the conduct of its officers in carrying out their duties.

"Without significant changes to the structure and improvement in its effectiveness, there are bound to be perceptions about the MACC being impartial, a toothless tiger, selective in its enforcement, slow in taking actions and unprofessional in its investigations.

"These perceptions will, in some ways, mar the image of the MACC," he said.

The prime minister said that as experiences of other countries had shown, building a nation that embraced integrity and rejected the culture of corruption was a long and arduous process.

"Neverthless, my government is aware that Malaysians are fully behind the integrity and anti-corruption agenda. We have heeded the people's call, and over the past year in particular, a number of concrete steps have been taken to strengthen the integrity and anti-corruption agenda," he said.

Abdullah said every effort had been made to ensure that the MACC was fully equipped to be an effective anti-corruption agency.

Meanwhile, The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) defended the public disclosure that there was “strong evidence” of abuse of power against the Selangor Menteri Besar.

MACC deputy commissioner Datuk Abu Kassim said his boss was acting within the law when he made the statement to the media.

Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is accused of abusing his powers to purchase cattle, which was distributed to mosques to his constituency, and to maintain his personal car.

The disclosure, which has been labeled as selective prosecution by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) was made by MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan four days ago.

Abu Kassim said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2008 provided the powers to Ahmad Said to make the disclosure.

Section 29 (4) states that a report shall be kept secret and shall not be disclosed by any person to any person other than officers of the commission and the public prosecutor until an accused person has been charged in court for an offence under this Act or any other written law in consequence of such report, unless the disclosure is made with the consent of the public prosecutor or an officer of the commission of the rank of Commissioner and above.

“My interpretation of Section 29(4) is that the disclosure was made according to the law.”

When asked by The Malaysian Insider if the law allowed for the MACC chief to express his personal opinion to the press, Abu Hassan said he was not aware that Ahmad Said Hamdan statement was a personal opinion.

However two days ago, Minister in the Prime Minster Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz reportedly said (in The Star) that Ahmad Said Hamdan was only giving his point of view when he told the press they had sufficient evidence against Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and added that the Attorney-General’s Chambers will decide whether to press charges.

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