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No mandate to give MACC more bite

 | June 29, 2012

Pemandu says its role is only limited to improving the MACC's structure and operations.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), Putrajaya’s efficiency unit, said today it was never given the mandate to study the idea of giving the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) prosecuting powers.

Its anti-graft department director, Ravindran Devagunam, said while there had been discussions about it, Pemandu’s role in the government’s widely promoted anti-graft fight was only limited to improving the MACC’s structure and operations.

“We have discussed about it and are still discussing it but our mandate was specific: to improve MACC structurally and operationally. That’s all,” he told a press briefing on the commission’s 2011 annual report.

With the Attorney-General’s credentials tainted, the MACC’s limited legal power is seen as one of the key factors contributing to voter distrust towards Prime Minister Najib Razak’s pledge to fight corruption.

Najib had made the battle against graft as one of the National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) since he took office in April 2009 and introduced several initiatives to improve the anti-graft outfit but this has so far failed to tackle the negative perception.

A major factor leading to this widespread criticism is that the body was slow to react to the continuous opposition allegations of power abuse against the ruling coalition’s top leaders.

But Ravindran claimed that at the moment efforts to transform the MACC under its JET (Executive Committee for Transformation) programme would help restore public trust and end the debate on whether or not the commission needs more legal powers.

“In many countries you can still see there is separation between investigation and charging so I don’t see the problem [with the current system]. I believe the A-G is doing a good job,” he said.

The JET programme was introduced last year and is currently in its first phase – focusing on improving its human capital and operational methods including its check-and-balance system where five oversight committees are in place to perform this task.

Ravindran said currently the domestic perception on the anti-graft fight is improving, with higher conviction rates although he admitted that the MACC is at a “critical” stage where demand for it to deliver is stronger.

The MACC’s 2011 report claimed that conviction rate rose by 3% from 72% in 2010 to 75% last year. It also claimed its investigation efficiency had improved as backdated cases decreased from 12% to 8% in the same period.

Ravindran also pointed to the number of successes in battling major graft cases to disprove accusations that the MACC was only dealing with “the small fishes and not the big sharks”.


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