Newsletter: 4th Quarter 2015
Dr Ho Chai Yee
Tricia Yeoh, the chief operating officer of IDEAS, highlighted this issue in her column EGALITARIA in the Sun recently. She recounted that two months ago, Otto Perez Molina resigned as president of Guatemala following an investigation that he was involved in corruption. Just hours after his resignation, he was sent to jail. Two years ago, French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac resigned following investigations into allegations of corruption. In both cases, the perpetrators denied any wrongdoing at the outset.
In this part of the world, we have seen heads of states and senior ministers hauled up and convicted for corruption in countries like Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and others. More recently, Hong Kong’s former leader Donald Tsang, who has been charged for accepting favours from tycoons, is the latest high profile corruption case to hit the news.
In Malaysia, Datuk Seri Harun Idris, a former Mentri Besar of Selangor, was jailed for corruption in 1976. Fast forward this to recent times, we see the conviction of another former Selangor Mentri Besar, Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo, who has been sentenced to a year’s jail. Several other Mentri Besars, including some Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak, had been let off the hook because of weaknesses in the anti-corruption Act and related institutions, which are perceived to be under the control of the executive and are no longer independent. The Prime Minister of our nation has been accused of alleged financial improprieties by the foreign media, notably the Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal. Investigations are on-going and the jury is still out there.
No one should be above the law. Recognising the glaring weaknesses in the MACC Act, the Bar Council together with NGOs comprising IDEAS, TI-M, C 4 and CNBM have drafted the “Memorandum for the Reform of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission”. This document has been handed to MACC and its oversight committees and to Datuk Paul Low, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Governance and Integrity on 11 November 2015. Hopefully, the recommendations will be tabled and debated in Parliament and changes made to strengthen MACC and related institutions to combat and curb corruption effectively.