Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 5th December 2009:
Under Abu Kassim, can MACC redeem itself and restore public confidence, which has plunged to lowest ebb in nation’s history, as an independent, professional and fearless fighter against corruption?
Generally news of the early retirement of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan have elicited two responses.
Firstly, Ahmad Said’s 30-month tenure as anti-corruption chief saw public confidence in the anti-corruption agency, Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) and later MACC, plunged to the lowest ebb in nation’s history.
This is supreme irony and greatest national disservice. The MACC which started operations this year had been touted as modeled after world-famous Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and would be an even more effective anti-corruption agency because of the various panels and mechanisms exercising oversight to ensure its independence and professionalism.
It is however no exaggeration to say that public confidence in the ACA in its 40-year history had never fallen as low as during the first year of operation of MACC.
Who must bear responsibility for this ignominious state of affairs if not Ahmad Said as the first MACC Chief Commissioner?
Ahmad Said was appointed ACA director-general in May 2007, and the 30 months he headed the country’s anti-corruption agency, first ACA and later MACC, would be remembered as their “darkest days” when public confidence in ACA and MACC plunged to the lowest depth in the nation’s history.
Ahmad Said completely failed the first National Integrity Plan launched in 2004 to “effectively reduce corruption, malpractices and abuses of power” with the important target and specific objective to improve Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) from 37th place in 2003 to at least 30th position in 2008, and to better the CPI score of 5.2 for Malaysia in 2003 to at least 6.5 by 2008. (10 being the best and 0 the worst).
Instead, during his 30-month tenure as head of the anti-corruption agency, Ahmad Said presided over Malaysia’s double plunge to unprecedented lows, falling 22 places in TI CPI ranking from No. 44 in 2006 to No. 56 in 2009, with the CPI score also falling from 5.0 in 2006 to an unprecedented 4.6 in 2009.
Malaysians will not forget Ahmad Said’s infamous saying that as far as the MACC is concerned, there is no difference between corruption involving a few ringgit and corruption involving a few hundred millions of ringgit or the black marks in his record as MACC chief, including:
The second response to the news of a new MACC chief is whether the MACC, under Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed, can redeem itself and restore public confidence, which has plunged to the lowest ebb in nation’s history, as an independent, professional and fearless fighter against corruption?
The Malaysian public want to have an anti-corruption agency which has teeth and which can sent to jail the corrupt, regardless of position or status, responsible for Malaysia’s continuing plunge in international competitiveness.
The MACC was created to be more effective than ACA, with more powers, funds and personnel, to combat corruption, even to outshine Hong Kong’s ICAC.
Why then is the MACC facing the worst crisis of confidence among the Malaysian public, who generally regard the MACC as even worse and more useless than the ACA after less than a year’s operation?
Is Abu Kassim prepared to lead the MACC as an independent and professional anti-corruption body like Hong Kong’s ICAC, not at the beck and call of the political masters of the day, or will MACC be “more of the same” as under Ahmad Said?
If it is the former, DAP and Pakatan Rakyat are prepared to render full support and co-operation. If it is the latter, the people and history will be the judge.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor