Special Report: UNODC recognition gives MACC more bite


MACC SPECIAL REPORT SERIES : #4

THE United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has recognised the MACC as an independent entity in weeding out corruption. In May 2013, the Review of the UNODC on Malaysia’s compliance of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) recognised Malaysia’s successful efforts to combat corruption, and Malaysia fared well in its first UNCAC review on anti-corruption compliance. In its report, UNCAC commended Malaysia for its 23 successes and best practices in its fight against corruption.

special report series

special report series

These practices include Section 25 of the MACC Act 2009, which establishes a duty to report any bribery or attempt and criminalises non-compliance; the absence of statute limitations which helps maximise the possibility of prosecutions; and the establishment of 14 specialised anti-corruption courts, where judges are instructed to hear cases within a year and can be held accountable for noncompliance.

The UNCAC requires that state parties implement several anti-corruption measures to prevent corruption, criminalise certain conducts, strengthen international law enforcement and judicial cooperation, provide effective legal mechanisms for asset recovery, technical

assistance and mechanisms for the implementation of the convention, among others.

Malaysian Parliamentary Special Committee on Corruption Chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang said the United Nations has deemed the MACC as one of the five bodies internationally recognised for its check and balance capabilities.

The current structure of the MACC, according to Abu Zahar, was aimed towards being truly independent, neutral, open, and transparent in investigating any case involving corruption. Abu Zahar, who is Dewan Negara speaker, headed the

parliamentary committee, whose members consisted of members of Parliament from both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.

“We have representatives from the opposition and the government. They are all appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong

(the King). We are above politics, meaning our main mission is to carry out our duties as stated in the MACC Act. The MACC is also the only anti-corruption commission in the world which is monitored by five different independent panels,” he said.

Besides the parliamentary committee, the other four bodies monitoring the MACC were the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, Operation Evaluation Panel, Complaints Committee, and Anti-Corruption and Consultation Panel. All bodies collectively

comprise 46 members.

“One of our duties is to spread awareness on the existence of these independent bodies, and of the effectiveness and direction of the MACC, towards being truly independent and neutral in the war against corruption,” he said.

On doubts by certain parties towards MACC, Abu Zahar said it was undeniable.

“I feel it is because society has not really understood or even been made aware about MACC and its function, which is

totally different from the pre-2009 era. It is time that we need to spread more awareness at various sectors, including community, NGO and political parties, We must let the rakyat know what is the present role of MACC,” he said.

“Corruption should be battled by every party. If it is not done, then it will become a plague that will destroy society,” said Abu

Zahar, who has headed the committee since last year.

He also urged those who have alleged that MACC practised selective investigation to come forward and lodge a complaint with

the independent monitoring bodies.

“My message to them is simple: please come forward without fear or favour, you don’t have to go to the same officers. We have five panels. If the committee (panel) is satisfied that the complaint has merit, we will advise the MACC to re-evaluate the case. We once had a situation, where the Operations Review Panel ordered a case to be re-opened after the DPP had deemed the case was not sufficient to be prosecuted. This particular panel is also recognised by the UNODC.”

Since 2009, the Operations Review Panel has recommended for 52 cases to be re-opened and eight of those were

successfully brought to the court.

Abu Zahar hoped society as a whole could change their perception towards MACC. “Only with the cooperation of all will we be able to achieve a harmonious Malaysia which is free of corruption for future generations,” he said.

In the spirit to ensure that the independence and transparency continues, Abu Zahar called for current laws to be amended. Abu Zahar revealed that the MACC has more handled more than 50 high-profile cases in the past five years.

While the MACC indeed investigated the cases, Abu Zahar said the perception of the people was otherwise. “Any case needs solid evidence… this is required by the law.”

United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) Regional Anti-Corruption advisor Shervin Majlessi said that while it’s important to have good strategies and policies to tackle corruption, as Malaysia does, what’s more important is the implementation and monitoring of those policies.

“Confidence in the system can be built by having the right approach and rhetoric, but more than that, by actions that go with it – such as having strong and independent anti-corruption institutions to show that a government’s actions match its words… there is indiscriminate and consistent application of the law, where no one has immunity and it is not affected by political influences,” Mr Majlessi said.

“I have been exposed to many countries where they have very interesting systems in place, but there is no follow up,” he added.

“I think that’s where many countries fail. There has to be political will to do so.”

UNODC REPORT: SOME OF THE SUCCESSES AND BEST PRACTICES RECORDED BY MALAYSIA

  • Operations Review Panel in MACC reviews delayed cases or cases which were transferred to Deputy Public Prosecutor, but did not result in a charge.

  • Specialized anti-corruption courts have been in existence since 2011. Judges are instructed to hear cases within one year and can be held accountable for non-compliance.

  • Institutional set-up of MACC, The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy (MACA) and the anti-corruption courts were deemed to constitute exemplary practices.

  • Inter-agency collaboration takes place regularly at different levels. One example is the National Coordinating Committee to Counter Money Laundering (NCC), which is responsible for the development of the anti-money laundering policy and action plan.

  • Malaysia had developed a solid system to provide and request international cooperation, which profiles the country be a provider of technical assistance.

  • Malaysia had concluded bilateral and multilateral treaties and cooperates widely in international and regional organizations and initiatives.

  • Malaysian authorities have taken proactive steps to sensitize all relevant stakeholders, especially judicial officers, to the applicable laws, procedures and timeframes to be followed.

  • Malaysia has taken necessary steps to expediting extradition procedures and simplifying evidentiary requirements.

  • Use of joint investigations and an operational working group with Brunei Darrusalam are good examples of law enforcement cooperation among countries at the policy and operational level.

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