PETALING JAYA: Opposition leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob says his colleagues in Parliament will support any efforts to boost the status of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), in the wake of the challenge by DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang for the opposition to support amendments to elevate the standing of the anti-graft agency.
He said the opposition would support such a bill, which requires a two-thirds majority as it involves constitutional changes.
“The opposition will always support the government’s efforts to get rid of corruption,” he told FMT, adding however that the government itself must demonstrate its seriousness and ensure that MACC is free from any political grip.
“Lim does not need to challenge the opposition. He needs to challenge himself and the government to immediately table a bill with the proposed amendments to strengthen MACC.”
Ismail claimed Putrajaya had not taken steps to eliminate government interference in MACC affairs, citing the appointment of Latheefa Koya as MACC chief commissioner as an example of a “broken promise”.
He said the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on public appointments should have been asked to scrutinise and propose names for the position.
Adding that a number of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) election promises had not been fulfilled, he said he was sceptical that the government would propose any amendments to MACC soon.
Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin also questioned PH’s commitment to fulfilling its promise, saying the coalition had constantly made U-turns in its policies.
The Kinabatangan MP said PH should bring the bill to the table before asking the opposition to support it.
Latheefa’s unilateral appointment by the prime minister last week led to much debate, with several PH leaders saying it should have gone through the PSC.
PH had promised that the appointments of several key government positions, including that of the MACC chief, would be approved by Parliament.
But Lim said passing constitutional amendments was not easy and asked whether the opposition leader and opposition parties would support PH’s efforts to implement this.
In particular, he highlighted the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 in April, aimed at restoring the status of Sabah and Sarawak, which failed to secure a two-thirds majority.
Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Supreme Council member Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said however it was wrong for Lim to use this as an example because the bill did not properly reflect the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
The Santubong MP, who abstained from voting on the bill, said it was also rejected because Gabungan Parti Sarawak MPs wanted the matter to be referred to the special Cabinet committee to oversee MA63 first.
“If they want to amend the law, including the constitution, we will support it if it’s for the good of the country.
“MACC should be given the right to prosecute rather than leaving it to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
“But let’s have a look at the proposed amendments first. Show us the draft bill and then we’ll talk. This is what advanced countries do,” he said.