Minimum penalty for graft, anti-lobbying law among highlights of National Anti-Corruption Plan

PETALING JAYA: A minimum penalty for corruption and a law on the declaration of assets by MPs are among the key initiatives of Putrajaya’s National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP), unveiled today by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

There are a total of 115 initiatives in the NACP, which the Pakatan Harapan government aims to implement within one to five years in a bid to ensure a corruption-free nation through measures promoting good governance, accountability and transparency.

Other key initiatives outlined in the NACP include placing the National Audit Department under Parliament, and the prohibition of issuing support letters by members for the administration or highly influential persons for projects.

This means that the heads of departments in the civil service can no longer accept such letters as directives or decisions from those in power.

Both these initiatives are targeted for implementation by the end of the year.

Within two years, the government also aims to introduce a political funding law which makes lobbying an offence.

Also targeted for implementation within a year is the appointment of politicians as chairmen or board members of statutory bodies, state-owned enterprises and government-established companies limited by guarantees strictly on academic or professional qualifications.

A policy to prevent political interference in the removal and appointment of chairmen or board members of such organisations will also be introduced by the end of the year.

In time, these organisations will also be barred from making contributions to politicians and political parties.

The enhancing of Parliament’s authority is also a key part of the NCAP. This includes initiatives to empower Parliament to compel ministers, civil servants and citizens to appear before committees to supply information.

Within two years, Dewan Rakyat speakers will also be required to resign from any party post they might hold, while one deputy Dewan Rakyat speaker will be appointed from members of the opposition.

In an effort to promote merit in recruitments and appointments to government positions, a policy will be introduced to allow only career diplomats and non-politicians to head Malaysian overseas missions.

The plan also addresses local councils, including a move to limit influence or interference by politicians and influential people on the local councils’ performance and decision-making.

By the end of the year, the finance ministry will also introduce standard clauses in government procedure contracts which allow Putrajaya to terminate and even file civil suits over breach of contract.

The plan also states that within two years, the Judges’ Code of Ethics will be reviewed to prohibit judges from accepting appointments in commercial entities for three years after retiring, while more specialised Corruption Courts will be set up by the end of 2020 to clear the growing number of backlog cases.

The NACP also address “Ali Baba” practices through plans to amend the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act 2009.

The amendment will make it an offence for any person or organisation to sell off government projects to another party for monetary gain, and compel those who benefit from such sales to reveal the beneficiary ownership.

Other notable initiatives include a guideline for the role of a caretaker government, term limits for the prime minister, chief minister and menteri besar, as well as a Freedom of Information Act.

The Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Centre will evaluate the yearly performance and effectiveness of the NACP initiatives.