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C4: MACC does have jurisdiction over political donations

 | October 11, 2017

Cynthia Gabriel says MACC is exercising its executive discretion not to probe claims Lim Kit Siang received a RM1 billion bribe from Dr Mahathir Mohamad.


PETALING JAYA: The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) today challenged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) claim that it has no jurisdiction to investigate political donations.

Citing Section 16 of the MACC Act (2009), C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said the legislation in fact empowered the agency to investigate such donations.

Section 16 (Offence of Accepting Gratification) reads: “Any person who by himself, or by or in conjunction with any other person […] corruptly gives, promises or offers to any person whether for the benefit of that person or another person, any gratification as an inducement to or a reward for or otherwise on account of (A) any person doing or forbearing to do anything in respect of any matter or transaction, actual or proposed or likely to take place […] commits an offence.”

Section 3 (Interpretation) meanwhile defines “gratification” as covering donations, rewards, financial benefit and even “any other similar advantage”.

“This means that the MACC is exercising its executive discretion to not investigate this public allegation, for reasons unknown to the public,” Gabriel said in a statement.

This followed MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Azam Baki’s remarks on Sunday that the agency had no jurisdiction over political donations.

Azam was responding to DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang, who asked the MACC to investigate claims that he had received a RM1 billion bribe from former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Parliament has not passed any legislation that provides a guideline for political parties or politicians on political funding.

“The MACC Act 2009 does not cover offences related to money politics,” he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.

Gabriel however said the MACC was “trying to wash its hands of investigating political financing”.

She added that there were precedents for investigations into political donations.

In 2012, she said, the MACC investigated RM40 million in smuggled cash, allegedly for the personal use of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman.

“In 2015, a special task force comprising the MACC, the Royal Malaysian Police and Bank Negara Malaysia raided SRC International Berhad on allegations that funds had been distributed to the Prime Minister’s personal accounts.

“C4 Centre has also previously called for the MACC to investigate Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia for the unusually large donation of RM35 million from Genting Plantations,” she said.

According to her, the greater issue was the need for a specific law to address money politics and political financing in the country.

Although the Political Donations and Expenditure Act (PDEA) proposed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low was a step in the right direction, she said, C4 had “serious reservations” about the lack of limits on political donations.

She added that the emphasis of PDEA was on transparency rather than systematic reform.

“But as we wait for an effective legislation to be enacted, we reiterate that the MACC has powers to investigate political donations.

“Otherwise, if the MACC fails to act, how can it win public opinion and say it is pursuing its mission to stop corruption at all levels in Malaysia?

“The MACC is at the forefront of corruption prevention in Malaysia. It cannot simply stand by,” she said.


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