Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 30th January 2009:
The Prime Minister is wrong but dare MACC enforce the law to demand information from Umno disciplinary board on the 900 complaints about money politics or charge Rithaudeen for offence under MACC Act punishable with RM10,00 fine, two years' jail or both?
The Prime Minister and the UMNO Disciplinary Board Chairman are wrong and the Chief Commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) right on whether money politics and vote buying in Umno come within the jurisdiction of the MACC.
The UMNO disciplinary board chairman Tan Sri Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen so despaired at the rot of corruption in Umno that he even suggested the abolition the Umno wings – Youth, Wanita, Putri and Putra – as a radical surgical solution but he refused to recognize MACC's powers, responsibilities and jurisdiction over these cases, claiming that the Umno disciplinary board is not a "forwarding agency" for the MACC.
Rithaudeen said investigations by the MACC and the Umno disciplinary board would be done separately and any information-sharing would be done on a case-by-case basis.
Rithaudeen's position has been upheld by the Umno President Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after the Umno Supreme Council meeting last night.
New Straits Times today reported:
Asked whether investigations into money politics came under the disciplinary committee or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, he said the issue fell under the committee's jurisdiction.
Earlier yesterday, the MACC Chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan had given a completely different take on the MACC's powers, responsibilities and jurisdiction when he declared that "the MACC is going after vote-buying in Umno, whether the party likes it or not", as to the MACC, "money politics simply means corruption".
Ahmad Said said while the Umno disciplinary board could conduct its own probe into alleged graft, the commission would also step in.
He said: "We will conduct our own investigations even if he disciplinary board is looking into the case. Never mind if the investigations overlap, we will still have still to be there."
Ahmad Said cannot be more right. In fact, the Chief Commissioner and the MACC would be remiss in their duties to eradicate corruption if they stood by the sidelines and are not actively engaged in rooting out money politics in Umno.
Rithaudeen is wrong when he said that the Umno disciplinary board is not a "forwarding agency" for the MACC, as he would be guilty of withholding information on the serious crime of corruption to the MACC.
Furthermore, under Section 47 on "Legal Obligation to give information" and Section 48 on "Obstruction of investigation and search", every person including the Umno disciplinary board chairman is required to give information on any subject which it is the duty of the MACC to inquire into under the law and which is in that person's power to give.
Rithaudeen will be committing an offence if he refuses to give any such information such as about the 900 complaints of Umno money politics received by the Umno disciplinary board or obstructs any MACC investigation, an offence punishable with RM10,000 fine, two years' jail or both.
The MACC and its Chief Commissioner are now facing their first biggest test of their independence, autonomy and professionalism – whether they dare to stand up by the powers and responsibilities vested in them by the MACC Act passed by Parliament last month or whether they will kowtow to the wishes of the Umno leadership, now that the Prime Minister and Umno President as well as the Umno Supreme Council seem to have succumbed to pressures manifested by the unprecedented demonstration by Umno members against the MACC outside UMNO headquarters before the Umno Supreme Council meeting last night.
Dare Ahmad Said tell the Prime Minister and Rithaudeen that they are wrong in claiming that the MACC has no powers to investigate into the 900 complaints of money politics in Umno, and that Rithaudeen risks being charged with an offence liable to RM10,000 fine, two years jail or both if he refuses to furnish all available information to the MACC about the 900 complaints about Umno money politics?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor