Saturday 25 August 2012

Will MACC boss Abu Kassim step down?

Time and again MACC has shown it is incapable of calling the shots in upholding justice and truth, leaving the people to believe its existence is nothing but a sham.

In spite of Its dismal performance and battered image, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has ‘caught the fancy’ of the European Partners Against Corruption network (EPAC).

So taken in is EPAC president Martin Kreutner that he has described MACC as one of the world’s most respected, making you wonder just how ‘learned’ Kreutner is of the ‘actual’ modus operandi of the MACC.

For one, MACC has the blood of Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed on its hands; both Teoh and Ahmad Sarbani were found dead on the grounds of the MACC, with Teoh, a political aide to a DAP state assemblyman, found dead at the MACC headquarters in Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam while Ahmad Sarbani, a Customs officer was found dead at the MACC office in Kuala Lumpur.

Both Teoh and Ahmad Sarbani had earlier turned up at the MACC for questioning and their deaths have left the rakyat wondering what role is MACC really essaying, i.e. that of fighting graft or that of finishing off ‘enemies’ of the state and failing to address issues of corruption involving top politicians or their family members?

MACC has also allowed itself to be manipulated by the federal government, leading to the former closing its eyes to cases of corruption involving ministers and VIPs.

And still, Krutner cannot help but admire MACC for a job ‘well done’. He also gives credit to MACC chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed whom he said was one of the most recognised and esteemed among anti-corruption experts and the international community.

If indeed so, why then has the corruption index of this country not seen any improvement? In December last year, a Transparency International Malaysia survey revealed that for the third consecutive year, Malaysia recorded a decline in its Corruption Perception Index score, its 4.3 score slightly lower than the 4.4 recorded in 2010 and much lower than the government benchmark of 4.9.

The ECAP president’s reasons for heaping praise on MACC are unconvincing flimsy at best, looking at the latter’s track record.

Just how Kreutner arrived at such conclusion is anyone’s guess. What seems clear is that EPAC is either not worried or ignorant about the underhand tactics employed by MACC in the course of its investigation.
Does Kreutner know to what extent the government of the day exerts a hold over it?

The rakyat is aware that as long as MACC remains under the Prime Minister’s Department, there will be no dearth of excuses where ‘lack of evidence” is concerned in allowing influential individuals to escape being investigated.

MACC = Dismal

There is one too many proof of how the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is conveniently manipulated by the authorities to cover-up for their hanky-pankies.

From its failure to deliver justice in the Teoh Beng Hock case to using ‘lack of evidence’ as an excuse to close the files on graft charges against Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, Crime Investigations Department director Bakri Zinin, and former Inspector-General of Police Musa Hasan, MACC’s performance is at best dismal.

The allegations of corruption against Gani Patail, Bakri and Musa were made by former Commercial Crime Investigations Department director Ramli Yusoff, who filed the case two years ago.

Ramli has accused Gani, Musa and the MACC of conspiring to discredit him and his men for arresting alleged underworld figure Goh Cheng Poh, also known as “Tengku Goh”.

The former CCID alleged that the then ACA, now known as the MACC, had relied on a dubious character to charge him with corruption with assets worth RM27 million when he was a police officer.

An emergency motion tabled by opposition parliamentarians to set up a tribunal to hear the charges against Gani and Musa was rejected during the on-going sitting in a typical Barisan Nasional style with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in March this year rejecting calls for the tribunal, saying it was unsubstantiated allegations.

However, it was in July 2009 that the rakyat found out how inept MACC had become. Its credibility was tarnished after MACC’s miserable attempts at washing its hands off the controversy surrounding Teoh’s death.

An inquest was held and the coroner returned an open verdict but after much pressure a Royal Commission of Inquiry was set up to ascertain Teoh’s death, which was in the end classified as suicide, albeit his family’s firm belief that he was actually murdered.

MACC’s commitment in doubt

Failure to deliver in the Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbani cases and the convenient end to the Gani, Bakri and Musa cases has left the rakyat unhappy and doubtful of the MACC’s commitment to fight corruption, regardless of the party involved.

Time and again MACC has shown it is incapable of calling the shots in upholding justice and truth, leaving the people to believe its existence is nothing but a sham.

Indeed, if MACC is all about pleasing the ‘powers that be’, then why the claim that it is modelled after top anti-corruption agencies, such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption (Hong Kong) and the Independent Commission Against Corruption (New South Wales, Australia).

When in July last year Najib “unceremoniously” deported French human rights lawyer William Bourdon, Suara Rakyat Malaysia or Suaram was convinced that the premier and his government are “inextricably linked” with the Scorpene submarines corruption scandal.

Bourdon was representing Suaram in a high-profile case filed against submarines’ vendor DCN at the Parisian courts. (In 2002, Najib then the Defence Minister, sanctioned the purchase of the Scorpene submarines amid accusations of gross over-pricing and kickbacks).

“It is the biggest mistake yet by the Malaysian gvernment for it is an affront to diplomacy, to international law and common decency. It was a totally arbitrary act by the Home Ministry and a gross abuse of executive power of the Najib administration,” Suaram Director Cynthia Gabriel retorted via a statement on July 27, four days after Bourdon’s deportation.

And MACC was just as silent when a blogger, “The Whistleblower711” revealed that aides of Najib and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin and a Deputy Minister were allegedly “bought” by a businessman to obtain contracts from the government and its agencies.

Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek Hussin, who was implicated, claimed that his “conscience is clear” and the money received was not corruption but instead for the benefit of the people of Bachok, where he is the UMNO division chief.

Looks like MACC will never have the gumption to take the nation’s corrupt politicians to task despite the pressure coming from the rakyat.

Earn the rakyat’s trust

MACC has to work very hard to win the rakyat’s trust as its performance thus far speaks only of manipulation, not of warding off graft.

When former MACC member Robert Phang demanded that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nazri Abdul Azi, be hauled up for alleged abuse of power and for “living beyond his means”, did MACC have guts to do so? No!

Phang said this was only proper as Nazri had made statements that the government refused to investigate Gani’s alleged abuse of power in a number of cases.

Phang also said the rakyat wanted to know how could Nazri’s son afford luxurious cars, a Porsche driven by him and a Toyota Vellfire by his bodyguards?

“Why did he need bodyguards? What business is he in? Are we seeing further examples of ‘Cowgate’ among the families and sons of ministers who live in absolute opulence whereas the people are told to be thrifty and constantly reminded of rising inflation and high cost of living?”

Phang then said the MACC should seriously look into whether Nazri’s family members were living beyond their means or having unusual wealth, saying that all civil servants are subjected to the MACC Act.

As predicted, MACC remains silent when it comes to acting against corrupt politicians. The fact that fledgling politician Zamil Ibrahim, the former Kita Kedah chief, has come a long way from his burger stall days to owning a Rolls Royce has yet to rankle MACC. Is it because Zamil is a Barisan Nasional ‘broker’ indulging in MP-buying activities to ensure BN wins the coming 13th general election?

With such unscrupulous politicians still at large, does this mean that the July 31, 2010 pledge to resign by Abu Kassim should any graft reports not be investigated by his agency, including high-profile cases involving government ministers will turn true?

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist

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