They can bullshit and lie until the cows go home..the image has been tarnished long time ago. Basically, MACC is corrupt under the Prime Minister's cowardice powers...imagine when the big mama becomes our PM! The cows will be fatter and the opposition leaders will be slaughtered for whatever reasons under the corruption charges!
Feeble attempts to show independence
ON Monday, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) charged four people with various offences ranging from receiving bribes and making false reports – perhaps with a reason too. This turn of events has been seen by some as a prelude to the official launch of the MACC yesterday. But cynics have a right to call these attempts to right a wrong which was done on Friday when it announced that it had enough evidence to press charges against Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.
However one looks at the events of the past five days, all the hard work, time, effort and money spent on giving the anti-graft body a new image has gone down the drain. By going into over-drive and charging someone with offences allegedly committed in one case, at least six years ago, cannot mitigate the highly-publicised press conference on Friday. Let’s put the matter in the right perspective – corrupt practices cannot be condoned irrespective of who does it – the government or the Opposition; the director- general or the office boy. It would be a folly to say that some of the charges are politically-motivated.
But by jumping the gun and announcing the evidence against Abdul Khalid, the MACC has turned its back on its own policies, if not rules.
On May 23, 2006, I shared the same platform with the then ACA’s research and planning director Sutinah Sutan at a seminar on corruption in local government. I had gone on a tirade because the agency was dragging its feet on several high-profile cases. I then posed this question: Do I as a complainant have a right to know the progress of investigations into a case I reported?
Sutinah unequivocally declared: The ACA is not obliged to update complainants on the progress of investigations unless it receives an official letter seeking such information.
That was not the first time I had locked horns with the ACA top-brass. A year earlier, I had a lively debate with its former chief, Datuk Seri Zulkipli Mat Nor, on his numerous lawatan sambil belajar (which he had admitted to) at a forum chaired by the former chief justice, Datuk Annuar Zainal Abidin.
After our public spat, Zulkipli in a conversation with colleague Terence Fernandez last remarked that "senior ACA officers are unhappy with what Nades is writing. And because the ACA reports directly to the prime minister, these criticisms are also directed at the PM."
If dropping names was the previous chief’s forte to get us off his back, he failed miserably. No, the PM took no umbrage to the criticisms when Terence and I interviewed him last November. On the contrary, he wanted support for his reforms which included the setting up of the MACC.
Even before the MACC was set up, we had always co-operated with law enforcement agencies.
As late as three months ago, we gave the then ACA a dossier on a minister’s questionable practices. While on an official trip to Japan and Hawaii, the minister’s personal trainer was on the same flight. His expenses were paid by a supplier to one of the agencies under the ministry. The dossier contained the flight details, exchange of e-mails between the travel agency and the supplier and even copies of a cheque and payment vouchers. We did not pick these documents out of thin air and neither did they arrive in brown envelopes as they usually do. They were and still are available in the public domain – at the High Court Registry. These documents were produced in a civil suit.
As outlined in last Wednesday’s column, there are many other cases which the ACA or now, the MACC, has yet to provide progress reports. Yet, on Friday, there was an update on Abdul Khalid’s case. Don’t misunderstand me. I would be the last to stand up for a public figure who is corrupt and neither am I saying he is innocent.
Three days before its official launch, MACC’s image is in tatters. However hard it tries to justify its actions, public perception will not change. Despite all its claims to be "truly independent", people will continue to view it as an arm of the ruling party. The debates in the "Letters to the editor" columns in the print media and in cyber space are testimony to this.
How can MACC repair the damage? Crisis management specialists will give the same advice that we, the lesser mortals, can offer: Come clean by telling the truth. There’s no other way. The flurry of prosecutions can continue but they will not nullify the wrongs of the previous week. No one can read the mind of the MACC chief who called for the press conference. No amount of self-righteous statements by those associated with the MACC is going to change public perception.
The MACC shot itself in the foot and it has to nurse the wound which may heal, but the scar will remain. The pain must be unbearable but that’s the price one pays for one’s follies.
R. Nadeswaran is editor (special and investigative) reporting at theSun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.