Tuesday 31 May 2011

Video alone can't prove vote-buying claims'

Any video recording purported to show voters receiving money is not enough evidence to prove in court that votes had been bought.

This is according to an independent body that reviews cases investigated but closed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

hadenan abdul jalil 310511"Anyone can act in a video. We can't only rely on (such recordings) because anybody can act," MACC operations review panel chairperson Hadenan Abdul Jalil told a press conference today in Kuala Lumpur.

Hadenan, a former auditor-general, said it would be unfair to charge anyone just based on allegations and without strong evidence.

"At the end of the day, a charge must (be backed with) strong evidence and (must be) in line with the law. We practise the principle of equality (to both the accused and accuser)."

Hadenan was responding to allegations that vote-buying has been rampant during by-elections in the past, as well as during the Sarawak election last month.

NONEAn election watchdog has revealed 'video and photographic evidence' linked to the Tamin state seat in Sarawak. However, the winning candidate - BN's Joseph Mauh Ikeh - countered that the cash payments were meant as 'travel allowances' for voters.

Hadenan said that many cases related to apparent vote-buying could not be acted upon because there were no witnesses to substantiate the claims, or the witnesses had withdrawn their statements.

Asked if loopholes in the law should be closed to prevent vote-buying, he said the issue of regulating political funding should be discussed among the "political masters".

The press conference was held following the panel's quarterly meeting to review MACC's decisions in cases it has closed.

"(We were told) that all investigations had been conducted in a transparent and professional way. All the (initial) decisions were studied thoroughly before the final decisions were made," he said.

Four politicians nabbed in 2010

The MACC operations review panel, made up of seven professionals, also discussed its own 2010 annual report.

According to the report, the MACC had received a total of 5,646 tip-offs on elements of alleged corruption in 2010.

azlanIt investigated 1,220 or 21.6 percent of these, with 900 cases being concluded within a year.

This led to 944 arrests involving 545 members of public, 293 civil servants, 102 private employees and four politicians.

Between Jan 1 and May 30 this year, the MACC made 131 arrests, with 53 individuals being taken to court.

On the issue of anonymous complaints, Hadenan said the MACC has wasted much of its resources and time on matters that were not supported by evidence.

The anti-graft body received 8,149 anonymous complaints from 2009-2010 and opened 1,758 files. While 80-100 of its officers were involved in checking on the complaints, they only managed to take one case to court.

"Therefore the panel has advised the MACC to focus only on anonymous complaints that have substantive evidence. It should not entertain anonymous letters which only contain one page," Hadenan added.

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