PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has urged the government to allow an independent body comprising qualified people, who are not involved in politics, to decide on the persons to fill senior posts within the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Lawyer Andrew Khoo said this would help clear any confusion as currently, the process to review and select candidates to fill the top posts in the anti-graft agency was not clear.
“This has caused a lot of doubt among the public. We are not sure if and when the recommendations (for top MACC posts) are made, is the prime minister allowed to say no to them?
“We need to take this decision-making away from politicians and give it back to the people. This would also ensure the right people would be nominated (for the top posts in the MACC),” he said in a talk titled “Reforming the MACC: The Need for New Efforts”.
Khoo said the practice of appointing retired civil service folk should stop, as their independence was questionable.
“It is very hard to change the mindset of someone who has supported the government all this while and is now asked to be independent. We need people with backbones, not one with ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ mindsets.
“We also can’t have those who have been in law enforcement all their lives to be in this independent body. We need to broaden the talent pool to include experts from universities and other fields,” he said.
At the same talk, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs’ (IDEAS) Tricia Yeoh said MACC needs to be reformed and supervised by an independent anti-corruption commission (IACC) under the auspices of the Federal Constitution.
“The IACC would then be monitored by an anti-corruption parliamentary select committee (PSC). Commissioners could then be voted in by way of a simple majority in the Dewan Rakyat,” she added.
“MACC would then be parked as an agency under the IACC and would revert to being an anti-corruption agency, ACA, like its predecessor which was formed in 1967. Its composition would have a 60:40 mix comprising civil servants and NGOs.”
Yeoh also said present laws must be amended to specify the exact definition of gratification as this would help close loopholes and grey areas.
“The definition could also be expanded to empower ACA officers to probe those living beyond their means,” she said.
Yeoh then called for whistleblower protections to be strengthened. Chiming in, Khoo said there should instead be stiffer penalties for those leaking info on whistleblowers.
The talk was hosted by Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) and the Bar Council.