"Where is our grey matter when we now suddenly opine that MACC should be under the EAICís watch?"
EAIC should uphold MACC model
By Walter Sandosam
THE Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) was established seven years ago. This is a commendable initiative from the authorities especially with regard to issues of integrity with respect to our enforcement agencies who, in certain instances, have been seen to be wanting on this front.
Currently the enforcement agencies that come under the EAIC's purview include the Royal Malaysian Police, Immigration Department, National Anti-Drugs Agency, Customs Department, Occupational Safety and Health Department, Civil Aviation Department and the Road Transport Department.
Based on the history of the establishment of the EAIC seven years ago, it was made to known to all parties that the MACC was to be excluded from the monitoring by the EAIC. Why was this so? Is it a case of special preference or is the MACC above the law and accountable to no one.
Surely some rational thought must have been put in before this decision was taken. If one thinks otherwise, it is an insult to the intelligence to those who had decided on the exclusion of the MACC from the purview of the EAIC. Let us take a step back and consider the facts from a holistic view.
The MACC currently has its own independent oversight bodies. The formation of MACC in 2009 was accompanied by the establishment of five independent overseeing bodies which monitor the activities of the MACC. As a recapitulation, the five bodies are the Special Committee on Corruption which consists of seven Members of Parliament, the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, the Complaints Committee, Operations Review Panel and Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel.
Hence with so many oversight bodies monitoring the MACC, it follows logically that the MACC should be excluded.
Where is our grey matter when we now suddenly opine that MACC should be under the EAICís watch? It is not only a monumental waste of time but sadly reflects the state of our inability to rationalise effectively.
EAIC chairman, Datuk Yaacob Md Sam has been quoted by the media that they want to expand the list of government agencies under their purview. They will suggest to the government to bring more agencies under them including the Welfare Department and the Securities Commission. It is also being recommended that the MACC should be included. Datuk Yaacob further added that proposed amendments to EAIC Act are scheduled to be tabled in Parliament early next year.
What is the rational for this? The EAIC Chairman has reportedly said they received a lot of questions about MACC's non-inclusion. They want exemptions on MACC to be abolished.
What needs to be done here is to re-educate those who ask the questions as obviously they are ill informed as to the facts behind the exemption. We need to exercise some intelligent thought here before we jump the gun.
Although the EAIC may have its own reasons for recommending the idea to bring more agencies under their family, one cannot help but wonder as to how many of the complaints received by the EAIC have been resolved. Self- examination has to be attended to first before biting off more than one can possibly chew on - much less digest!
There is nothing wrong for EAIC to include more law enforcement agencies under their supervision but it should not include the MACC as it is superfluous. The reasons are simple. MACC has reflected a clear distinction from other agencies and one should maintain that independence.
MACC was established via the MACC Act 2009 as an independent commission in line with the people's expectations. It was advised in Parliament that the MACC adopted the model of Hong Kong's independent anti-corruption commission to create five independent bodies. In fact, the establishment of independent oversight bodies is recognized by the international community especially the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) too.
At the domestic level, the MACC is the only government institution that has five independent oversight bodies. It is high time for the nation to adopt the MACC model and apply it to other enforcement agencies.
EAIC should in fact uphold the existing system or model of the MACC - not vice versa. One should look at the positive side of the MACC model to help improve the culture of integrity.
As stated by the MACC Anti-Corruption Advisory Board Chairman, Tunku Abdul Aziz, MACC was
already "well served" by independent panels and committees. The proposal of EAIC is "superfluous and irrelevant". An independent Complaints Committee already exists to deal with complaints by members of the public against misconduct by MACC officers.
The government should thus maintain the current set-up and scenario. If the recommendation of EAIC is accepted the nation will, in essence, be reverting to the old scenario which does not augur well for the image of the government and our nation.
We do not need more structural changes. All that is needed is to work within the given structure and elevate the national integrity level to that which is admirable. Malaysia needs more action rather than more bureaucratic reform.
My take: Mr Sandosam and Tunku Aziz aren't the only Malaysians suspicious of the wisdom and sincerity of Yaacob Mat Sam's suggestion that the MACC be brought under his agency's purview. I wonder if the EAIC chairman was misquoted, but if he was serious about putting a fiercely independent insitution under the agency, he needs serious help. What Najib Razak wants to do is to provide even more room for the MACC to exercise its independence. Yaacob's suggestion could be misconstrued. There are many people out there ready to believe that Yaacob was doing this on the orders of the Prime Minister!