By : Nuridzuana Ismail & Yip Ai Tsin
KUALA LUMPUR – Election promises to bring development to constituents in the form of building schools, parks, highways and creating employment opportunities do not tantamount to vote buying, said Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Deputy Senior Commissioner Han Chee Rull.
“Campaign promises and party manifestos are intended to benefit the public no matter who they vote for,” he explained during the Sixth Session of the ‘International Conference on Malaysia 13th General Election’ entitled ‘Combating money politics and electoral corruption in light of Malaysia 13th General Election’, organised by the YB Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s office on 5 March 2013.
“The courts have decided (in the past) that promises of development funds do not constitute bribery,” he said, adding that “MACC does not make the law but enforces the law. It is up to the courts to interpret the law”.
Earlier, former International Islamic University Professor of Law Dr. Abdul Aziz Bari pointed out that election manifestos are not contracts of law. He added that it is every governments’ right to promote their election manifestos and for the people to decide.
“It is for the people to decide if the manifesto is sensible or not, not the courts of law. If every problem is taken to the courts, then what about the other more important cases?” he asked before adding that political issues should be settled within the political scene.
“It is good that the courts do not act whenever such issues arise. Let the people and politicians deal with them,” he said before adding that rules and regulations are not good and will only serve to complicate matters.
Opportunities Of Abuse Of Power By Caretaker Government
Regarding questions concerning opportunities of power abuse by the caretaker government and prosecution of the corruption offenders, Dr. Abdul Aziz Bari said that the sole power lies with the Attorney-General (AG) to bring the crooks to court.
“The AG is a very powerful man. Even the police have to submit their Investigation Papers (IPs) to the AG. The AG is the last person to decide and institute a decision,” he said.
Similarly, Han pointed out that MACC can only investigate corrupt offences in the Election Offences Act 1954 independently and without fear or favour but the decision to prosecute lies with the Public Prosecutor under the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
MACC Established Following Changes In Political Landscape
Reacting to the political scenario in 2008, the (then) Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) proposed an independent Commission with check-and-balance mechanisms.
“In respect to investigations, MACC is accountable to the Operations Review Panel as check-and-balance on ongoing cases,” he said, adding that this was so that MACC could fulfill the public expectations in executing its designated legal obligations.
Preparation for General Election
In preparing for the 13th General Election, Han said that MACC is working very closely with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), Royal Malaysian Police Force (PDRM) and Election Commission (SPR). He stated that a task force has been set up to monitor and enforce laws during the upcoming General Election.
“This joint effort by various agencies had its meeting two weeks ago and MACC is assisting SPR in monitoring corruption offences. Teams of investigators will be dispatched on 24 hours standby,” he said.
He mentioned that there will be deployment of MACC officers on the ground during campaign trails to gather information and intelligence on corruption. The Commission will also provide Integrity Screenings to all, he added.
University Malaysia Sarawak Faculty of Social Sciences Associate Professor Dr. Andrew Aeria urged everyone to assist and help the MACC by documenting and providing all information of corrupt acts to the Commission during the General Election.
“Put those information in your Facebook, update your twitter and blogs,” he encouraged the audience. [ENDS]