Dare MACC emulate its Indonesian counterpart, KPK and introduce game-changer in anti-corruption battle?

“Don’t shoot MACC from behind” is one newspaper headline today, quoting the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Abu Kassim yesterday when urging politicians from all parties not to “shoot the MACC from behind”, saying that this would only make it even more difficult to fight corruption.

He said: “The MACC is the army to fight corruption. If you shoot us from behind, who could our society ask for help against corruption.”

Abu Kassim is grossly mistaken. Pakatan Rakyat politicians do not shoot MACC from behind but from the front, for its obvious failings and ineffectiveness in the war against corruption, allowing the MACC to defend itself. There is no reason for PR political leaders to hide their criticisms of MACC.

Only UMNO/Barisan Nasional politicians have the resources, means and even the motivation to shoot MACC from behind, to ensure that the MACC, which is already a complaint and subservient creature of the political leaders in power, will become even more compliant and subservient to the other lower-ranking leaders in the ruling coalition.

Secondly, four years after the elevation of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to MACC with increased powers, funding and staffing, Malaysians are not convinced that the MACC is “the army to fight corruption”.

MACC has still blood on its hands, with the death of DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock and customs officer Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamad on its premises still to be unsatisfactorily accounted for. Clearly, only a change of government in Putrajaya in the 13GE followed by the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry can get to the bottom of the mysterious deaths of Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbaini on the MACC premises.

The establishment of MACC from the elevation of the former ACA since January 2009 had been marked by a worsening problem of corruption as reflected by Malaysia plunging to the lowest ranking and score in these four years in the 18-year annual Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) series since 1995.

In the first year of TI CPI in 1995, Malaysia was ranked 23rd out of 41 countries, falling to No. 37th ranking in 2003 when Mahathir stepped down as Prime Minister at the end of the year.

Despite all the Abdullah boasts of “Mr. Clean”, “Modern-Day Justice Bao”, “all-out war against corruption” and “impending arrest of 18 ‘big fishes’”, Malaysia’s TI CPI continued on a headlong plunge in Abdullah’s five-year premiership, falling to No. 47 ranking in 2008.

But in the four years since the establishment of MACC replacing ACA, which also coincides with the premiership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Malaysia’s TI CPI not only continued in the downward plunge, but reached even lower depths – No. 56 in 2009 and 2010, No. 60 in 2011 and No. 54 in 2012.

Can Abu Kassim and MACC explain why Malaysia performed so badly in the TI CPI in the four years since establishment of MACC in 2009 as compared to the 14 years from 1995 to 2008 under the two previous Prime Ministers, Mahathir and Abdullah?

Or why MACC failed to achieve the 2009 National Key Result Area (NKRA) target of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) to increase Malaysia’s TI CPI 2010 score to 4.9 (which would have ranked Malaysia in No. 48th position instead of the actual 56th placing)?

Or going further back, the reasons for Malaysia’s abysmal failure to achieve the target of the five-year National Integrity Plan (2004-2008) to improve Malaysia’s ranking in the TI CPI from 37th place in 2003 to at least 30th position in 2008 with a score of at least 6.5? (10 being the best and 0 the worst)

Are there any signs that the MACC would cease to be a creature of the powers-that-be and be more effective and independent in combating corruption, particularly “grand corruption” involving top political and government leaders in the coming years” or must this wait until there is a change of government in Putrajaya?

Although Malaysia boasts of being better than Indonesia with regard to the problem of corruption, Indonesia is chalking up more impressive improvements in the war against corruption in the past two decades.

In 1995, Indonesia was at the bottom of the TI CPI ranking at No. 41 position with a score of 1.94. It clawed up to the rank of 100 out of 183 countries in the TI CPI 2011 with a score of 3.0.

In contrast, Malaysia had been regressing in both ranking and score since 1995 (ranking 23 and score 5.28), down to No. 60 with 4.3 score in the TI CPI 2011.

Indonesia is ranked No. 118 out of 176 countries with a score of 32 out of 100 in TI CPI 2012, as compared to Malaysia’s ranking of 54 with score of 49.

However, there are significant progress and even game-changers in the anti-corruption campaign in Indonesia which is completely absent in Malaysia.

Last Friday, Indonesia’s Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng, once thought to be presidential material, resigned after being named a suspect on corruption charges by the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi – KPK).

KPK has also announced plans to require all state officials to explain unusually high wealth not in line with their official salary, which is regarded as a game-changer in the war against corruption in Indonesia.

Would Abu Kassim and MACC dare to emulate their Indonesian counterpart KPK and introduce the game-changer in anti-corruption battle in Malaysia by requiring all political leaders and public servants to explain extraordinary and unusual wealth whether assets, income or lifestyles, totally disproportionate to their official salary?

It is when Abu Kassim and MACC dare to introduce a game-changer like this in the war against corruption that they can begin to win confidence of the Malaysian public in their efficiency, independence, professionalism and integrity in the all-out war against corruption and chart an improvement in the TI CPI for Malaysia in the coming years.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur