MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Sunday, July 25, 2010

MACC still in denial mode about its bad publicity: Pakatan

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

Not all the Facebook pages or Twitter micro-blogging accounts can save the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission because its problems run much deeper than bad press or public perception, Pakatan Rakyat leaders said on Sunday.

“Does bad press mean exposing corruption? Or is it bad only when it involves BN leaders? Aren’t they deliberately courting even more bad publicity by their actions,” PAS national unity chairman Mujahid Yusof Rawa told Malaysia Chronicle.

“Actually, there is no such thing as bad press as long as there is press freedom. MACC should buckle down to fight corruption instead of griping and making the public think even more poorly of them. How can MACC ask the media and the public not to criticize when it doesn’t do what it is supposed to? As they say, don’t shoot the messenger!”

Relying on public relations

Indeed, the MACC may have been over defensive. The latest round of criticism against it restarted when MACC boss Abu Kassim Mohamed wrote a conciliatory letter to the family of Teoh Beng Hock to mark the first anniversary of his death on July 16.

He was chastised by both the public and Teoh’s family for insincerity, hypocrisy and for pulling a publicity stunt in the same mold as those favored by many BN politicians. Not only did Abu issue the statement in Mandarin, but he was also ridiculed for his over-grandiose pledges that MACC would not let any wrongdoer go unpunished.

Yet days before that, MACC had U-turned on plans to meet a Malaysian private investigator, P Balasubramaniam, in London to record his statement on a 2008 statutory declaration that implicated Prime Minister Najib Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor and their friend Razak Baginda in the Altantuya murder and submarines-graft case.

To make things worse, the MACC operations review panel hit back by accusing the media of being unfair and that they should instead “protect” the commission so as to encourage foreign direct investment into the country. But so far, only the online alternative media has been critical of the MACC, while the mainstream press has seldom pointed out any of its shortcomings.

”We are talking about image. This is the country that we love, you are the press. You can write one negative article that will effect investment for an example but you can also highlight the positive things.” Malaysian Insider reported MACC’s Aminah Pit Abd Raman as saying earlier this week.

“For example, there are cases that we win but we only get a small column. What we are trying to say is this that corruption is there but to sell the country to foreign investors then you must say that MACC is doing a lot of things.”

Still in deep denial mode

Yet, to many Malaysians, her comments sounded lacking in transparency and exactly the sort of behavior that a respectable anti-graft body should distance itself from.

Nonetheless, MACC deputy chief commissioner Hajah Sutinah Sutan followed up on Saturday by launching the commission’s Facebook page. It launched its Twitter account in May.

“People are saying that we are not transparent in our actions and that we are selective in our prosecutions. But all of our actions are transparent,” said Sutinah.

“People should fight corruption, not MACC or its officers. With accurate information, there will not be any negative perception towards MACC.”

But her comments only drew further accusations that the MACC was in dangerously deep denial mode.

“Absolutely, no way the people will believe! Why waste time on such a public relations exercise. It doesn’t prove they are effective and will not win them any trust of confidence - instead on the contrary,” Kota Raja MP Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud told Malaysia Chronicle.

"All MACC needs is to do what they are supposed to do. Check all complaints even if it involves big fishes, take action even if it involves big fishes. If the government is serious about fighting graft, it should also help by arming MACC with powers to prosecute and not rely on the Attorney-General, who himself is also facing massive loss on public confidence.”

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