Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 13th December 2008: 

Five amendments to MACC Bill to strengthen MACC’s independence from Executive and reinforce Parliamentary oversight  

If Hong Kong’s Number Two graft fighter is to be believed about what he said with regard to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Bill, Malaysia is on the threshold of greatness – to join the ranks of the world’s 20 or even 10 least corrupt countries!

The local media have been inundated with reports of the short visit of the deputy commissioner and operations head of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Daniel Li on the invitation of the Anti-Corruption Agency, heaping praises on the MACC Bill which is to be debated in Parliament on Monday.

Praising the government's commitment in fighting the scourge of corruption, Li said the MACC was equal or better than the ICAC after which it was modelled.
He said he found the MACC Bill to be very comprehensive and very focused.

He said: "The affected area that it covers is wider than what the ICAC is covering in Hong Kong."

He praised the government for being “faster than us in Hong Kong” in terms of developing strategies to combat corruption, adding:

"This shows that the authorities here are very much up to date with the problem. We in Hong Kong are still doing reviews and consultation but in Malaysia you have already done that by coming out with these recommendations."

Li even said that there are some good idea in the MACC Bill which he would take back to Hong Kong.

If Li is to be believed, Malaysia is set to overtake Hong Kong in the Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) annual rankings as a least corrupt nation.

Since the start of the TI CPI annual rankings in 1995, Hong Kong had consistently been ranked among the world’s 20 least corrupt nations although the number of countries surveyed had increased more than four times from 41 nations in 1995 to 180 nations in 2008. Hong Kong was ranked No. 17 out of 41 nations in 1995. In 2008, it is ranked No. 12 out of 180 countries.

Malaysia has taken a different trajectory in the TI CPI surveys in the past 14 years, ranked a lowly No. 23 in 1995 but plunging lower to No. 47 in 2008!

If Li is right, then Malaysia is set not only to reverse this decline but also to surpass Hong Kong in international recognition as a least corrupt nation!

How many are there whether in Malaysia or outside who really share Li’s optimism about the MACC Bill and the government’s fight against corruption? I doubt there is even a handful of such people!

The MACC Bill is not the first time that Malaysia had modeled after Hong Kong’s ICAC. When the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 was passed by Parliament, the new anti-corruption law was also said to be patterned after Hong Kong’s ICAC.

What was the outcome of the first Malaysian attempt to emulate the ICAC? Malaysia’s corruption went from bad to worse, with Malaysia’s TI CPI going into a freefall from No. 32 to No. 47 this year!

Will Malaysia’s second attempt to model after Hong Kong’s ICAC suffer the same sad fate as the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 which is to be repealed and replaced by the MACC Bill?

All this means is that Li is an undoubted authority about the IACC and Hong Kong’s fight against corruption but a dubious authority about the MACC Bill and Malaysia’s fight against corruption.

I have yesterday given notice to Parliament to move five amendments to the MACC Bill to give greater safeguards to strengthen the MACC’s independence from the Executive and to reinforce Parliamentary oversight.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor