Reform the MACC and strengthen anti-corruption efforts
KENYATAAN MEDIA C4 CENTER
Pengisytiharan Harta Langkah Penting Membanteras Rasuah dan Salahguna Kuasa
2 Julai 2019
C4 Center merujuk kenyataan media semalam yang menyebut Dewan Rakyat telah meluluskan usul yang mewajibkan semua ahli parlimen mengisytiharkan harta. Kami amat mengalu-alukan langkah ini yang selaras dengan prinsip akauntabiliti dan ketelusan.
Kami juga menyambut baik kenyataan Menteri Liew Vui Keong bahawa satu undang-undang pengisytiharan harta sedang dalam proses penggubalan. Langkah ini amat penting dalam membentuk satu mekanisme yang efektif dalam memastikan pelaksanaan pengisytiharan harta. C4 Center sedia bekerjasama dengan kerajaan untuk memberikan input berkenaan undang-undang pengisytiharan harta.
C4 Center bersama-sama kumpulan masyarakat sivil yang lain telah lama melakukan kerja-kerja advokasi untuk memastikan kerajaan menggubal satu undang-undang pengisytiharan harta di Malaysia. Sebelum pilihanraya ke-14, C4 Center dan Majlis Peguam telah menderaf satu Kerangka Pengisyitiharan Harta (Public Asset Declaration Framework). Kerangka Pengisyitiharan Harta ini mengandungi contoh borang-borang pengisytiharan harta, prinsip-prinsip, dan amalan terbaik di negara-negara demokrasi yang lain.
Kami juga ingin menyelar kenyataan ahli parlimen PAS Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man yang enggan mengisytiharkan harta atas alasan larangan agama. Keengganan beliau untuk mengisytiharkan harta ini juga disokong oleh ahli parlimen pembangkang yang lain.
Sikap ahli-ahli parlimen pembangkang ini amat memalukan dan bertentangan dengan nilai-nilai demokrasi. Kami menegaskan bahawa dalam sebuah negara demokratik, rakyat mempunyai hak untuk tahu dan mendapatkan maklumat berkenaan harta yang dimiliki oleh wakil rakyat demi memastikan mereka berkhidmat dengan penuh amanah, ketelusan, dan integriti.
Ahli parlimen pembangkang sepatutnya menyokong pengisytiharan harta dan berhenti menggunakan agama untuk melindungi mereka daripada dipantau oleh rakyat. Semua agama menitikberatkan sikap amanah dalam melaksanakan tanggungjawab kepada rakyat. Ahli-ahli parlimen pembangkang tidak perlu takut seandainya gaya hidup mereka berlandaskan agama.
Pengisytiharan harta juga dapat mengukuhkan langkah kerajaan untuk memperkenalkan peruntukan undang-undang berkenaan kekayaan yang tidak dapat diterangkan (unexplained wealth) di mana jika seseorang didapati mempunyai harta yang tidak dapat diterangkan, ia cukup untuk menjadi satu asas untuk siasatan dimulakan. Pada masa sekarang, seksyen 36 Akta Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah 2009 (Akta SPRM) yang membenarkan siasatan dijalankan ke atas kekayaan yang tidak dapat diterangkan amat terhad kerana ia perlu berkait dengan jenayah yang sedang disiasat di bawah Akta SPRM.
Kami menegaskan bahawa tadbir urus baik hanya boleh dicapai dengan memastikan, antara lain, adanya satu undang-undang pengisytiharan harta yang menyeluruh. Kami dengan ini menyeru agar proses penggubalan undang-undang ini dijalankan dengan telus dan mengambilkira pandangan dan input orang awam. Ini adalah kerana rakyat merupakan ejen semak imbang yang amat penting dalam memastikan amalan rasuah dan salahguna kuasa dalam kerajaan dibanteras.
Pengarah Eksekutif, C4 Center
The announcement of Latheefa Koya as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner on on 4 June 2019 brought into question the commitment of Pakatan Harapan in reforming the MACC. Latheefa was appointed directly by Tun Dr Mahathir Muhammad without consultation with the cabinet nor a parlimentary select committee. This goes against Promise 14 of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto in which the MACC commissioner would be appointed through a democractic process or a parliamentary select committee. This move by the Prime Minister has undermined Strategy 1.4 of the National Anti-Corruption policy which he himself launch in January of 2019. The objective of strategy 1.4 is to enhance the Parliamentary Power and Governance Administration where it also promises for the establishment of the committee. This blatant disregard of the NACP and the manifesto shows a lack of respect on the hard work that has been done by the Governance, Integrity and Anti-corruption Center (GIACC) and C4 Center who has been instrumental in the composition of these documents.
Latheefa’s appointment has been the 10th unilateral appointment by the Prime Minister since Pakatan Harapan got into power in 2018 to key roles in the government. The Prime Minister justified the appointment as the parliamentary select committee (PSC) mechanism has no legal authority to do so and any changes to empower them requires a two-thirds majority vote in parliament, which the Pakatan Harapan government currently do not have. We urge the government to expedite this process before a change of any change of leadership as it will make future key appointments in the administration accountable to the rakyat.
Despite our disappointment with the method behind Latheefa’s appointment however we welcome the elevation of a prominent and robust political activist as a person spearheading the MACC. Regardless, we will remain vigilant and keep Latheefa Koya and the PH government accountable in their commitment in ridding the country from corruption.
In reference to the reform of the MACC, given that constitutional amendments which require a two-thirds vote – which the government does not currently have – are needed to allow the status of the MACC to be alleviated to an independent commission akin to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission and the Election Commission, the government, in the interim, has announced temporary measures to ensure some degree of independence is accorded to the MACC. The measures are:
1) The MACC reports directly to Parliament;
2) The appointment of the Chief Commissioner will be done through a Parliamentary select committee; and
3) A regulatory body to be set up under the MACC to monitor governance of institutions that deal with investments.
We duly note the government’s constraints in ensuring that the MACC enjoys the status of a commission which is key to ensuring its independence. We applaud the government’s effort to put in place these interim measures which is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
It was reported on 20 April 2019 that an asset declaration law will be enacted before the end of this year. The MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner (Prevention) Datuk Shamsun Baharin Mohd Jamil confirmed that the MACC is in the process of preparing the law which will later be drafted and then submitted to the Cabinet. While we applaud the move, we would like to emphasize that a law on asset declaration would be more effective and transparent if it mandates that declaration is made public. This can be done by making all relevant forms concerning asset declaration accessible to members of the public and machine-readable.
It is important to note that the MACC itself in a meeting with C4 Center on 25 June 2018 where a proposed asset declaration framework was submitted affirmed that it could facilitate the process of making asset declaration public by uploading the relevant information on its website. In light of this positive development, we hope the proposed asset declaration law can be strengthened with our proposal in mind and shared with all stakeholders. A radical shift for a clean and accountable government can only be achieved by having, among others, a robust asset declaration law which provides for public scrutiny.
Revise the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, the Official Secrets Act 1972, and the Witness Protection Act 2009
Promise 14 of the election manifesto also states that the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA), and the Witness Protection Act 2009 would be revised. The government in March 2019 however justified the continued use of the OSA after classifying the report by the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) as official secret. The backtracking on the move to revise the draconian OSA which severely infringes on the right to freedom of expression and information is seriously concerning. The OSA’s wide and unchecked powers to declare any document as secret shields the government from public scrutiny and accountability, thus making the realization of the good governance agenda an impossibility.
As regards the pledge to revise the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 and the Witness Protection Act 2009 which is important in ensuring that whistleblowers are accorded with effective protection for exposing corruption and abuse of power, we note with concern that no concrete steps have been taken to date by the government towards revising these two laws.
Enact a Freedom of Information Act
In its efforts to stamp out corruption, the Pakatan Harapan coalition also included in Promise 14 of its election manifesto that it would enact a Freedom of Information Act. Minister Liew Vui Keong announced in August 2018 that the government would take up to a year to study the Freedom of Information law. He also stated that consultations would be held with stakeholders on the matter. We note that there has been no progress made by the government to crystalize this particular commitment, including consultations with stakeholders, which should be the first step that ought to be taken towards enacting a Freedom of Information law.
Upgrade MACC to a Commission status (ie. akin to the Election Commission)
31 Mar 2019 – Reforming the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is under way. The appointment of the chief commissioner will be done via a Parliamentary Select Committee, and this has been approved by the cabinet. MACC will also be forming a regulatory body to monitor governance in investment agencies.
Increase MACC Commissioners and enforce a quota for civil society
Appointment of MACC Commissioners to be validated democratically by Parliament
9 Jun 2019 – Despite Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad declaring that his decision on the new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief as final, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Major Public Appointments still wants to meet the Prime Minister over the matter.
11 June 2019 – The government will stick to the “old idea” of referring to the Prime Minister’s recommendation to appoint chiefs of key national bodies until Parliamentary Select Committees are able to take over the role legally, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
13 June 2019 – Newly appointed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Latheefa Koya will have to appear before Parliament’s Special Select Committee (PSC) on Major Public Appointments, says its chairman William Leong.
12 June 2019: The government will stick to the “old idea” of referring to the premier’s recommendation to appoint chiefs of key national bodies until Parliamentary Select Committees are able to take over the role legally, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
11 June 2019: There is no need to amend Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 to improve the procedure for the appointment of the MACC Chief Commissioner, says Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof.
9 June 2019: Despite Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad declaring that his decision on the new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief as final, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Major Public Appointments still wants to meet the Prime Minister over the matter.
4 June 2019: Lawyers for Liberty executive director Latheefa Beebi Koya is the new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner, replacing Datuk Seri Shukri Abdull.Her two-year contract takes effect on June 1, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement Tuesday (June 4).
18 May 2018 – MACC gets a new chief commissioner.
31 Mar 2019 – Reforming the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is also under way. The appointment of the chief commissioner will be done via a Parliamentary Select Committee, and this has been approved by the cabinet. MACC will also be forming a regulatory body to monitor governance in investment agencies.
Revise and enhance the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972, and the Witness Protection Act 2009
16 July 2019 –The Official Secrets Act is under review and the bill to amend the law could be debated in Parliament next year, said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin.
14 Sep 2018 – The time has come for government departments and bodies to set up a whistleblower policy similar to their private sector counterparts. Former Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi said the government could learn from the private sector, which practiced corporate governance.
14 Sep 2018 – THE government plans to review the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 to encourage more people to expose unlawful activities in public and private organisations. Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said such a move is in line with the government’s efforts to strengthen its policies.
“I believe that we need to have a stronger whistleblower act to deal with the current situation in the country.
Enact and implement a Freedom of Information Act.
Compel all members of the Dewan Rakyat, Dewan Negara, and government officials (JUSA C ranking and above) to declare assets and income.
2 July 2019: We applaud the Malaysian government for passing this motion
20 July 2019 – The Dewan Negara will follow in the footsteps of the Dewan Rakyat, where a motion will be tabled in the House to compel all senators, both government and opposition, to declare their assets.
13 July 2019 – The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is offering a dedicated system and consultation services to state governments for asset declaration by assemblymen. MACC Chief Commissioner Latheefa Koya said asset declaration by elected representatives was to ensure a more transparent administration.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said this meant that opposition MPs must declare their assets together with the rest of the federal lawmakers in the Lower House of Parliament.
20 April 2019 – The new act under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which requires politicians and senior government officials Grade Jusa C and above, to declare their assets, is expected to be implemented before the end of this year. The new act is currently being drafted and will be presented to the Cabinet and hope to be realised by year end. MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner (Prevention) Datuk Shamsun Baharin Mohd Jamil
18 Mar 2019 – Anwar Ibrahim has urged the government to make asset declarations by key public officials a legal obligation; some MPs are still refusing to declare their assets despite this being the policy of the Pakatan Harapan administration.
1 Nov 2018 – The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has published the asset declaration of 47 Pakatan Harapan and Parti Warisan Sabah parliamentarians, with Lim Guan Eng recording the highest monthly income.
8 Oct 2018 – A new law warranting a mandatory declaration of assets by elected representatives is in the works. The new law, when adopted, would be expanded to include opposition members of parliament and state assemblymen. MACC is completing the bill’s final draft, which is expected to be concluded by year end.
Involve in relevant international platforms, including Open Government Partnership.