The aggressive crackdown by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on graft in the public sector should be extended to corrupt high-profile politicians, says Akhbar Satar.
Investigations on politicians should be conducted in all aspects of anti-corruption legislation – against those who live beyond their means and anti-money laundering acts for money trail investigation – as this will deter others from being involved in corrupt practices. As such, those who are involved in corrupt practice should be brought to justice.
In the political arena, the Malaysian Corruption Barometer (MCB) 2014 Survey indicated that political parties were the most corrupt bodies in Malaysia, followed by the police and the civil servants. Politicians were perceived the most corrupt by replacing the police who were in the previous year’s top spot.
The findings from the survey points to the fact that the public do not see politicians as individuals with integrity or as transparent and accountable as they should be. The politicians have been selected by the rakyat to serve them and not to betray the rakyat.
However, there are many rakyat who are struggling to live and yet the corrupt politicians are living beyond their means with lavish lifestyles and also owning luxurious homes in Malaysia and overseas. The politicians, who are also the policymakers who pass laws and legislation, should not break the law. Politicians should lead by example to the people.
MACC statistics show that only two politicians were arrested out of 670 total arrests in 2015, and only two of them were arrested until October 2016. Most of these cases are likely not high-profile cases as they were not published in the media.
In order to gain and increase credibility and public support and confidence, the MACC must seriously eradicate corruption and strengthen its commitment to carrying out its investigation in a transparent and professional manner without fear or favour. They should not allow impunity when investigations are carried out. No one should be above the law.
Many are not aware that MACC does not have the power to initiate prosecution for offences of corrupt practices; they only have the power to investigate. It is not true that the MACC has been selective in prosecution especially those involving politicians.
In Malaysia, only the attorney general can decide on prosecution. Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution expressly states that the attorney general shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Sharia court, a native court, or a court martial.
Thus, the attorney general must be fair in making purely non-selective decisions; his role should be apolitical; and no one should be able to doubt decisions made in the interest of the nation.
Judges should play a vital part by imposing the maximum penalty on the accused once found guilty in efforts to prevent repeat offenders and also to send out a strong message to others not to indulge in corruption.
The MACC needs the support, cooperation and involvement of public, impeccably honest and respectable politicians regardless of their political differences to boost the commission in its fighting against corruption effectively in this country. Let us support the MACC to fight corruption in the country.
Dato’ Akhbar Satar is president of Transparency International-Malaysia.