Today, Malaysiakinicarried a news article which says that the ACA will be given full prosecution power. This is a significant move. Corruption is so rampant now that it is almost glorious to be corrupt (example – pls read the story below, in the second half of this post, about ‘Cop vs Cops’ ). First, I quote Malaysiakini:
|Anti-Corruption Agency gets prosecution powers|
|Jul 11, 08 11:00am|
|The Anti-Corruption Agency has been granted full prosecution powers which will allow the agency to open a case and proceed with it until the matter is brought before the court.
At present, the agency has to refer its completed investigations to the Attorney General’s Chambers to decide on whether the case could be taken to court.
This dramatic change – which will give the agency more bite and do away with the long-held complaints of its lack of independence – was announced today in a brief statement by the ACA in Putrajaya.
The agency said that this new move would allow it to efficiently and effectively investigate corruption cases.
This will also remove the negative perception that it was the AG’s Chambers that was delaying the prosecution of high-profile cases involving politically connected individuals.
I have been pushing for an Independent Commission for Anti Corruption, for many years now. I have written many posts on this, asking the government to give power of arrest, investigation as well as prosecution to an totally independent anti corruption agency. With prosecution power, which exists now with the AG chambers, the anti corruption commission would not have to submit all its investigation to AG chambers which will ‘decide’ whether to prosecute or not. The perception is that the AG chambers very often did not pursue cases that should by right be prosecuted. Why is this so, only they can answer the public.
I have many times quoted the example of Hong Kong. In the early 70s, Hong Kong was a mess and one of the most corrupt places. Even the chief of police was found to be corrupted. Firemen then often would ask for “water”(shui) before they release water to put out a fire. (In Cantonese custom, water means money). Ambulance drivers would take a long detour to send a cardiac attack case to hsopital if the relative refused to pay “tea” money, knowing that the first hour was very crucial for heart attack patient. Gangsters ruled the streets without any fear of the police, since very often the top policemen were in cohort with the the bosses of the triads.
All these changed within a short time of the setting up of an Independent Commission for Anti corruption, the ICAC, by Sir Mac Lehose the governor , after the people went to the street and successfully petitioned the government. The Chief of Police , Peter Godber, was sacked and arrested. The rest is history. One of the most corrupt places in the world became one of the least.
So the above news saying that the ACA has been given prosecution power is an important first step. But this alone would not be enough. The agency must be given full independence and answerable to a select anti-corruption committee of Parliament and not the the Prime Minister. They should take up cases against big fish without fear or favour. It should be free to investigate corrupt practices among ministers, government servants, judicial officers and judges,enforcement agencies, private sectors and political parties without fear or favour.
If they can do that, I am sure we can be like HOng Kong within a short time, maybe even before the stepping down of the Prime Minsiter in 2010.
Cop Vs Gangsters Cops
On the same topic of corruption, I would like to refer to an article in Star today, “Cop vs COps in Gemas Station”. Apparently, according to the Star,
” A policeman has lodged a report against all his colleagues including his superiors allegedly over dissatisfaction on how the monthly bribes from those operating illegal activities was being distributed.
In retaliation, one of his superiors, a sergeant, lodged another police report against the policeman, a lance corporal, for allegedly selling station property to scrap dealers.
A source said the lance corporal, in his 40s, was dissatisfied with his superiors for allegedly taking the lion’s share of the bribes while the rank and file received very little.”
All of us have heard stories about this sharing of bribe but this is the first time that a report has been lodged. If this story of the whole team taking bribe and share the bribe is true, then it is really a sad thing for the force as well as all Malaysians. We want to ask what has happened to : “cekap, amanah , Bersih” by TDM?
The rot is like Hong Kong in the 70s. So the remedy should be the same. The PM has nothing more to lose since he has announced that he will be retiring in 2010. Tackle corruption without fear or favour and he could still earn a good name in history. The ball is now at his feet and how he kicks it will determine how posterity views him.