Tuesday, December 16, 2008

MACC Bill passed in Parliament

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Bill was passed in Parliament after more than 20 hours of debate with 14 proposed amendments by the Opposition shot down.

The bill was tabled for its first reading on Dec 10 leaving MPs only a few days to prepare their speeches as the debate was held on Monday.

Amendments put forth during the third reading on Tuesday by Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) and R. Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) were mostly centred on the seperation of powers between the public prosecutor and the MACC.

There was also a lengthy debate on an amendment (which was later shot down) to include a clause that would give the MACC powers to specifically investigate those who have been or are officers of a public body who are living beyond their means.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri AbdAziz argued however that there had to be a check and balance between the public prosecutor and officers in the MACC.

Sivarasa had proposed amendments to a number of clauses that he said would not give the MACC a free hand in carrying out investigations due to the way the clauses were worded.

It was finally passed at 7.53pm with more voices saying “aye” and some saying “nay.”

The MACC will not be placed under the charge of Parliament as a check against unfair acts, Nazri said earlier.

This was because the viewpoints of parliamentarians were not always objective and the MACC should not be influenced by partisan politics in preventing acts of corruption, he claimed.

“Nowhere had the Government said that the Anti-Corruption Agency will be placed under Parliament.

“While there is no parliamentary committee on corruption to be formed, the Bill stated that a special committee will be formed and will be manned by parliamentarians,” he added.

Nazri said MACC’s special committee on corruption would have seven members, including those from the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, who would be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

He disagreed with the Pakatan Rakyat MPs who argued that the A-G’s decisions were influenced by the Executive, and that the MACC and the A-G’s powers should be placed directly under Parliament.

Nazri also said the MACC had nothing to do with the person holding the A-G’s post.

He said the A-G and the A-G’s Chambers were two separate issues, adding that deputy public prosecutors and Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) officers would be seconded to the MACC to ensure that genuine cases would not face “political hurdles.”

“If a case cannot proceed due to an unexplained reason, only then I agree that it’s the problem of the individual (AG), not the institution itself.

“You cannot simply throw away everything -- the executive, the judiciary and the legislative because of accusations of misconduct against the A-G,” he said in replying to points raised during the debate on the MACC Bill on Tuesday.

He also said the opposition’s suggestion that a cabinet minister be appointed to the commission would raise question of impartiality.

The Bill contained provisions to check the professionalism of MACC officials through the formation of an anti-corruption advisory board, a special committee on corruption and complaints committee.

The MACC was based on the Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Nazri said that the commission members would be given attractive remunerations and urged the Public Service Department to study the matter.

MACC Bill passed in Parliament
Malaysia Star