Posts Tagged special report

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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Special Report: MACC’s continued improvements in combatting corruption

MACC SPECIAL REPORT SERIES : #3

“FOR my organisation, I’m trying my best. There are a lot of changes. Our success rate is 85%, which is of course a great improvement from 64%. But fighting corruption is not one organisation’s duty alone.”

The above response was given by Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner, when asked about the journey of the MACC since it was established in 2009.

special report series

special report series

By 2014, the MACC had surpassed international standards in combatting corruption by successfully completing 85% of its investigations within one year, which was also due to the implementation of more than 30 initiatives introduced under the Transformation Programme. The MACC had managed to complete 75% of its investigations within one year by 2012, and continue to improve on that today.

“Apart from that, the conviction rate of corruption cases have surpassed the eyes of other anti-corruption authorities including international bodies like the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA). MACC has also received requests from many countries to learn and have a first-hand look at the transformation process.

Apart from an improvement in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Malaysia’s ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 has improved to 20th position out of 144 economies, the report also recognised that Malaysia has been “relatively successful at tackling corruption and red tape.” Malaysia was ranked at 24th position out of 148 countries in 2013. According to the report, released in September 2014, Malaysia, which introduced major transformation strategy since 2009, stands out as one of the few countries which has successfully tackled both corruption and red tape.

In 2008, in order to ensure transparency and independence in corruption investigations, the government formed the MACC to replace the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), by having a new anti-corruption law. The formation of the MACC also accompanied by establishment of five independent panels. MACC’s numerous achievements and successes in the last few years is proof that the Commission is heading in the right direction.

In sharing his view on the question how the MACC is different from the ACA in its effectiveness, Abu Kassim said that it was important to understand why the ACA was changed to the MACC. “We must look at the underlying reasons, then we will understand the whole process. The ACA was transformed into the MACC due to one reason: transparency,” he said.

“We have the same structure as the ICAC Hong Kong, but Hong Kong has better public support. I went there and looked at our performance and discovered we need the public to participate in our work. Also, we need to be transparent so the public understands how we work.”

He added, “Did we achieve the objective of moving from the ACA to the MACC? I can say yes, there are changes in public perception. We have five committees and their members are varied. We have a former Bar Council president, the Malaysian Human Right Commission’s former commissioners, professors, a former Transparency International president, and so on. But of course, there is still room for improvement.

“They look at our work and most importantly, come out with a report yearly. They ask if we are doing the right thing and progressing in our work,” Abu Kassim said further, adding that the MACC has always been independent and transparent, and adopted a professional approach in carrying out its investigations as empowered under the MACC Act.

All accused persons under investigation must go through the process where their statement must be made in a video interview in the video interview room (VIR) where all the movement will be recorded. This is crucial for many reasons, primarily because it reduces the opportunity for any allegations that might be otherwise made against MACC officers.

“After we have gone through the new process and implemented the VIR, the number of complaints has been reduced tremendously.

From January 2013 until today [2015], there were no complaints that MACC had used force or coerced people to get confessions,” Abu Kassim said.

This further increases the transparency and professionalism of the MACC’s investigative process, which ultimately increases public confidence in the Commission’s ability to effectively combat corruption. As Transparency International’s co-founder Michael Herschman stated, “Malaysia is doing the right things to improve conditions and secure its economic future, and we feel that the MACC’s efforts to address and fight corruption are sincere, genuine, and effective.

Malaysia has laid out a clear plan to fight corruption and ultimately transform the mindset of business and government in the country. Such sweeping change, of course, takes time, and progress can’t always be easily seen. However, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has recorded many improvements and there is evidence that the steps being taken are having a positive impact.

Implemented in 2011, the MACC Transformation Programme involved strengthening the anti-corruption enforcement agency’s operations strategies, effective management of human capital, and enhancing corruption prevention.

These measures serve to improve the MACC’s performance and effectiveness in its operations and consequently enhance public perception and confidence in that the MACC is independent, transparent and professional in carrying out its investigations.

The MACC has introduced more than 30 initiatives covering both operations and human capital and has now entered into its third stage, focusing on the implementation of the actions plans on prevention. The MACC human capital development programme involves upgrading the skills, knowledge, integrity, competencies, and technical expertise of its officers. It also involves updating its organisational structure. The human capital transformation targets to enhance the public confidence towards the MACC and transform the Commission into a high-performance organisation. The prevention transformation is implemented through six service lines comprising Task Force Based Inspection, Corruption Prevention in the Private Sector, Content Development, Political Engagement, Civil Society Engagement, and Media and Communication.

MACC TRANSFORMATION INITIATIVES:

  • MACC PEACE interviewing technique
  • Video Interviewing Room to record statements
  • Investigation Operation Room to improve investigation procedures
  • Team-based investigation method
  • Procedures for private sector investigation
  • Applying proactive investigation procedure
  • Complaints Management System
  • Forensic accounting division
  • Reviewing the standard operating procedures
  • Enhancing the qualifications and training of MACC officers
  • Enhancing security at MACC officesinternational standards set at 80%,” the Chief Commissioner added. “The MACC success rate in solving cases proves that the MACC Transformation Programme has begun to yield positive results.”
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Special Report: MACC Free to Conduct Probes

MACC SPECIAL REPORT SERIES : #2

Investigative agencies in Malaysia are free to conduct probes into any alleged wrongdoings without the consent of the country’s leaders, said the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan.

special report series

special report series

He said agencies like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the police or Bank Negara Malaysia should be independent bodies as enshrined in the Constitution. “If they were to investigate a crisis, they do not need the permission of the Prime Minister or anyone else.

“They are not instructed by the Prime Minister or Cabinet members. They will automatically carry out investigations themselves,” Paul Low said at the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre on September 2, 2015. IACC ended on September 4.

He also said the public must wait for investigations to be concluded, as only then can those who are guilty of a crime, be prosecuted. “Integrity is not only about fighting bribery but also in ensuring that you do not falsely accuse anyone,” he said.

In his opening ceremony speech, Paul Low said that the MACC will be further empowered in combating graft and abuse of power as it will be given more bite. He added the country’s graft-fighting body would be strengthened by forming a separate service commission for the MACC. This, he said, would allow the commission to not only improve its capacity and staff professionalism, but allow it to better control the terms and conditions of their employment. The government, he said, was also committed to make the appointment and tenure of the Chief Commissioner more secure and to reflect the independence of the MACC.

The 16th edition of the IACC, themed, ‘Ending Impunity: People, Integrity, Action’, was organised jointly by the Government of Malaysia, MACC and the IACC consultative council, Transparency International and Transparency International Malaysia. More than 1,000 participants from over 130 countries attended the conference.

Under the National Key Results Area (NKRA) for Corruption, Malaysia had set for itself the target of achieving a Corruption Perception Index score of 70, from the current 52. Malaysia also aims to move up the ranks of countries surveyed, from the current 50, to be in the top 30 by 2020.

Paul Low told delegates at the conference that one of the hallmarks of a society with high integrity was the upholding of social justice, where the rights of the citizens are safeguarded and where wealth distribution is equitable and inclusive.

He also cautioned against an unhealthy relationship between politics and business as this would form a strong hindrance to reform towards a government that is more transparent and accountable.

Paul Low said the government recently launched the National Consultative Committee for Political Financing, which would act as a forum for the people to recommend best practices and the required legislation, regulations and institutional support.

The minister also called for a more extensive public engagement that would forge stronger collaboration with the relevant interest groups or non-government organisations at all levels of society. He said the responsibility of defending MACC shouldn’t just rest on the government or on his shoulders, but on society as well.

A similar assurance was also given by another Minister the Prime Minister’s Department, Senator Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid Omar during his closing address of the 16th IACC. He said that MACC had always been operating independently and without fear or favour in executing its role as the nation’s premier graft-busting agency. Abdul Wahid said his objective and informed assessment was based on his personal experience when he was called in by the agency to give a statement in connection with a case when he was in the private sector.

“The MACC has never been one-sided or shown fear when carrying out investigations into cases of corruption,” said Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid, who was appointed into the Cabinet in 2013. “This agency has the moxie to question any individual, no matter what his station is in society or how well connected he is,” he added.

As such, he said MACC should continue to receive the backing and support in its efforts in fighting graft. He reminded MACC that its focus should not be solely on those who receive bribes, but should also include the “enablers” of the act, those who give bribes.

“Corruption will stop automatically when the giving stops,” he said.

Meanwhile, President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Dr Chandra Muzaffar said institutions that are standing up to impunity, even though faced with challenges, must be lauded.

In his speech on Ending Impunity: People, Integrity and Action, he said Malaysian institutions like the MACC, Bank Negara Malaysia, police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers have an unshakeable commitment to integrity and are prepared to be guided by their conscience and stand by their principles.

“They are willing to stand up and be counted during critical moments, as what is happening in our country today. In MACC, there are people in the police, people in the AG’s Chambers and people in Bank Negara who are prepared to stand up and be counted. This is the most significant development in our country today.

“These people, my friends, need to be applauded for what they do. They put their lives at risk, their families at risk but they are not giving up,” said Chandra.

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Special Report: “ACT without fear or favour.”

MACC SPECIAL REPORT SERIES : #1

This was the message from the Chief Commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed at the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, recently.

special report series

special report series

In the special message read by Deputy Chief Commissioner (Prevention) Datuk Haji Mustafar Ali, Tan Sri Abu Kassim said he had always reminded MACC officers to carry out their duties without fear or favour. “I have always reminded MACC officers to act without fear or favour.

We do not practice impunity in our investigations. For that reason, the MACC officers are ready to make sacrifices in upholding public interest. We believe that to stop impunity, all institutions in the criminal justice system must act according to the merits of the case.

“As for the MACC, we must uphold the importance of independence in our investigations. For civil society and the public, they must be the protector and our conscience to defend the anti-corruption institution from any interference which will affect its independence. For the lawmakers, regardless of their political differences, they must be united in helping us to create a truly independent anticorruption institution.

“Last but not least, the prosecutors in Malaysia who play a role in taking charge of prosecution, shall be purely nonselective in executing their duty,” he read.

Mustafar added that the global fight to end graft requires firming up systems and procedures, and creating and promoting cultures that detest all forms of corruption, abuse of power and malpractice. He said central to this struggle was to have leadership by integrity, responsibility, accountability and transparency.

“Ending impunity is where we aspire to establish, restore, implement and execute the principles of integrity and governance,” said Mustafar. He said MACC had, in the past five years, made progress in being an independent, transparent and professional ‘MACC Will Defend the Interest of the Public’ anti-corruption agency. (MACC was formed in January 2009 to replace the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).)

“Much has been achieved but more needs to be done. The MACC is committed to continuously improving and strengthening itself as a renowned, world-class anticorruption agency,” he said.

Mustafar said IACC had developed into a conducive gathering which brings together anti-corruption activists, experts from government agencies, the private sector, civil society organisations and individuals from all over the globe. The aim is to share and expand on ground-breaking and cutting-edge initiatives in fighting corruption.

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