By Sin Chew Daily
MACC is on the move again, this time detaining the secretary-general of the rural and regional development ministry Mohd Arif Ab Rahman and his two sons, and recovering some RM3 million in cash, gold bars and expensive watches and luxury handbags, among others.
Arif had allegedly abused his power since he was appointed as the ministry’s secretary-general in 2015, appointing his own contractors and suppliers while receiving bribes from the vested interests. His two sons were said to be the middlemen receiving the bribes on his behalf.
As a matter of fact, this kind of corrupt officials are aplenty in government departments and the secretary-general could well just be the tip of the iceberg. It looks like the MACC should work much harder.
Under former chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed, MACC already launched a series of operations to combat corruption. Files were opened for the investigation of 982 cases last year, culminating in the arrest of 932 individuals and the prosecution of 258.
Since taking over the helm last August, the new chief commissioner Dzulkifli Ahmad has since carried on with the corruption-busting effort, including the biggest corruption scandal in the country’s history involving the Sabah State water department. This shows that the MACC is indeed doing its job dutifully.
In the past the MACC used to give people the stereotyped impression that it would only pursue the small fries, leaving the sharks at large. It is hoped that after the latest effort, such a negative public perception could be reversed. This is also one of the biggest challenges MACC has to seriously look into in the future.
As for the internal personnel changes within MACC, in particular the early retirement of Special Operations Division director Bahri Mohd Zin and the transfer of other senior officers, the vacancies have been left unfilled and this does not augur well for the MACC’s unrelenting effort to wipe out public service corruption.
MACC is encountering very complicated problems but those involving the mechanism are not what the commission itself could solve. For instance, one of the biggest weaknesses of MACC has been its lack of prosecution power or the authority to revoke any case. Such powers are solely the attorney-general’s.
This explains why sometimes the MACC cannot go on pursuing certain cases because they entail political or personal interests. Under certain circumstances, such cases may even be revoked and only the AG has the right to decide whether to prosecute the suspect.
It is essential that our MACC emulate its counterpart in Hong Kong which is completely independent in carrying out its duties. The MACC must be given the power to prosecute in order to completely weed out corruption.
Corruption is akin to a malignant tumour in our society and country. But most importantly we have to rectify the existing system, in particular the appointment of MACC chief commissioner and the AG. The nominees must be decided by the Parliament.
Only through the institutionalisation of reform will we be able to uproot the plethora of problems arising from corrupt government officials.
Sin Chew Daily is a local vernacular publication. -FMT