‘Impartial probe needed to restore MACC integrity’

PETALING JAYA: The credibility of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has come into question and activists say only investigations by a neutral party will help to restore its image.

They said investigations should be conducted by the police and Bank Negara instead of the commission carrying out an internal inquiry.

Social activist Tan Sri Robert Phang said there are questions that the MACC needs to answer.

He told theSun that the commission will have to explain how millions in cash that was to be presented as evidence in a corruption case could go missing.

“It is an insult to the whole system that has been set up to fight corruption.”

Phang was commenting on the arrest of three MACC officers on suspicion of stealing a portion of US$6 million (RM25 million) that had been seized from Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation former director-general Datuk Hasanah Abdul Hamid.

The money was to have been presented as evidence in a corruption case against Hasanah but it was later revealed that a portion of the cash had been removed and replaced with a similar amount in counterfeit US currency.

Phang said the MACC would have to explain how this could have occurred at its headquarters.

“There are many questions that have to be answered. How could law enforcement officers replace real money with counterfeit ones? How did they get the counterfeit? Who helped them?”

Phang said the MACC would have to explain how officers whose duty is to fight corruption can engage in corrupt practices in the first place.

He said MACC Chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki must quickly come up with a strategy to prevent such incidents from recurring.

He said the MACC should also not wait too long to take the errant officers to court.

Phang also expressed concern that the MACC might decide to hold an in-house inquiry rather than an open investigation, saying that such a move would not sit well with the people.

“We should have a neutral body, like the police, conduct the investigations. It does not matter who is implicated as long as the truth is revealed.”

He said Bank Negara should also be involved in the investigations, given that counterfeit currency would hurt the economy.

Asia Strategy and Leadership Institute Centre for Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said a full explanation is essential to enable the MACC to regain public trust.

“The incident has certainly created a bad impression of the graft body, and the action of replacing real money with counterfeit notes must be condemned, given that it reduces public trust in the commission.”

Ramon said that if the MACC is serious about regaining public trust, it must show that action is being taken and that the officers involved must be charged in court.

He said the incident could also deter some people from coming forward to report corrupt practices for fear of being exposed by dishonest MACC officers.

Ramon said the incident has also given the people the impression that the authorities condone corruption and that they lack the will to act.

“One major concern is that it could discourage foreign investors from coming to Malaysia. If the graft busters themselves are involved in corrupt practices, how can they protect investors from unscrupulous people?

“The government must show that it will not tolerate any kind of corrupt practice by taking quick action against those involved.”