MACC needs more support

with every other day at the office, you have your good days and your bad days. And Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam probably had enough of his share of "bad days" and decided not to continue as chairman or even a member of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Consultative and Corruption Prevention Panel.

It was revealed in theSun yesterday that Navaratnam declined to be re-appointed after heading the panel for two years.

When I spoke to the former Transport Ministry secretary-general yesterday, he was his usual self – a far cry from Thursday when he seemed to be uncharacteristically media shy.

Navaratnam said his not accepting a re-appointment was not a sign of disrespect to the MACC but his exasperation over the slow pace of progress following the completion of investigations.

What Navaratnam was trying to articulate was the sluggish political will in giving the MACC a bit more bite by pushing for charges and conviction of the wrongdoers.

While there are many others lobbying for positions as MACC advisers and board members (and several have been successful), these are not necessarily the best people for the jobs.

Worse, if they are political appointees who feel that their task is to defend the institution from criticism instead of providing constructive criticism and helping to improve public perception of the institution.

At the time of writing this column, I have been informed by government contacts that a former senior government official is being quizzed over a billion ringgit scandal.

His subsequent charging (if any) will further boost the MACC’s reputation but as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

The people will only be convinced that there is an earnest effort to fight graft when there is a "guilty" verdict, the perpetrators are jailed and their ill-gotten gains returned to the rakyat.

It was precisely the slow pace of getting to this conclusion that caused people like Navaratnam to throw their arms in the air and say "I’ve had enough!"

In my frequent engagements with them, I am convinced that the MACC is made up of good people who just want to do their jobs. Unfortunately, there are roadblocks – one being political consideration.

Hence, is it fair to the good people of the MACC to have their hard work come to naught or at least a temporary standstill due to factors beyond their control?

Is it also fair to the accused to have his name smeared in the blogosphere for years before he is cleared by a bona fide investigation?

Which is why time and again it has been said (and I risk sounding like a broken record) that the MACC must not only be truly independent, but it must be supported by an impeccable system that allows its officers and advisers to do their work without thoughts playing in their minds that their efforts will be for nothing.

This means the judiciary, the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the politicians whose will is needed to see through to the end the fight against corruption. When high profile cases are brought to the fore in the midst of election fever, it only serves to negate the good work of our lawmakers and enforcers. Not only that, it also illustrates a lack of sincerity in nipping this scourge in the bud.

Terence waits eagerly for the next high profile case. Feedback: