Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Wednesday, 25th February 2009:
ICAC’s praise for MACC “a good start for Malaysia to battle graft” – a supreme insult!
The Star headline, “Good start, says Hong Kong’s ICAC”, quoting the deputy commissioner and head of operations of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Daniel Li for the creation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officially launched by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday is no real praise but a supreme insult causing self-respecting Malaysians to cringe at such a serious indictment of Malaysia’s anti-corruption record whether in the 22-year premiership of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad or the five-year Abdullah premiership.
When the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) was founded in 1967 under the first Director-General Tan Sri Harun Hashim, the ACA's public standing as an independent anti-corruption agency both regionally and internationally was highest in its 41-year history.
Unfortunately, after Tan Sri Harun Hashim's tenure, the ACA had not been able to build on the public confidence enjoyed by the ACA.
Otherwise, the ACA should have become a premier anti-corruption body in the world instead of allowing the Hong Kong International Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) which was formed seven years after the ACA in 1974 to establish the international reputation as one of the best known and successful organisations dedicated to addressing issues of corruption in both the public and private sectors, to the extent that the Malaysia has to learn from ICAC, when it should be Hong Kong having to learn from the ACA!
This is the second time that Malaysia is trying to emulate ICAC. The results of the first effort when the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 was enacted had been disastrous with Malaysia taking a nosedive from No. 26 in the 1996 Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI), falling 21 places in 12 years to No. 47 in the 2008 TI CPI.
In this period, Malaysia had deteriorated both in CPI ranking and score, with ranking slipping from No. 26 to No. 47 while the CPI score fell from 5.32 in 1996 to 5.1 in 2008 (10 perceived as “highly clean” while 0 perceived as “highly corrupt).
In contrast, other Asian countries have either improved both their rankings or scores or both, viz:
Will Malaysia’s ranking and score in TI Corruption Perception Index fall even lower with the MACC Act, just as they fell even lower from 1997-2008 after the passage of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997?
The very fact that this question is posed at the very start of the MACC is a reflection of the failure of the MACC to command unquestioned national and international confidence in its independence, impartiality and professionalism in its first six weeks of operation – particularly with the bias and unprofessionalism shown by the MACC Chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan in his comment on the “car and cows” investigation involving the Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.
The MACC Deputy Commissioner Datuk Abu Kassim Mohammad missed the point altogether about the critical importance of maintaining public confidence in the MACC’s independence, impartiality and professionalism when he came to the defence of the Chief Commissioner, claiming that Ahmad Said had acted within the law when he commented about the Selangor Mentri Besar.
Can Ahmad Said cite a single instance where he had done the same thing with regard to corruption investigations involving top Barisan Nasional leaders?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor