International review

Civil Society Coalition Calls for Separate Independent Anti-Corruption Body

This material belongs to: The Star.

A coalition of civil societies has called for the formation of an independent body to tackle issues of corruption in the country.

Governance, Integrity, Accountability and Transparency (GIAT) proposed that an independent anti-corruption commission be set up.

“The position of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should be strengthened by creating an independent anti-corruption commission (IACC),” said Tricia Yeoh, chief operating officer of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).

This commission, she said, should be completely independent from the executive.

Yeoh was speaking at the Good Governance Agenda Workshop organised by GIAT held at here on Wednesday.

The formation of the independent commission is part of GIAT’s five-point Good Governance agenda for Malaysia, which was launched here Wednesday.

“There should be an expanded role and function, setting policy and direction in combating corruption as well as managing its human resources.

“Our proposal is to introduce a new part to the (Federal) Constitution so that the new IACC has an equal standing akin to the current Election Commission (EC). This means that it will be independent from the Public Service Commission,” she said.

Currently, the Public Service Commission supplies the MACC its investigative and case officers.

This commission would have no conflict of interest investigating civil servants as its own officers would not be drawn from the same pool.

Yeoh suggested that a portion of the independent commission be made up of individuals from civil society and professional bodies.

GIAT, in its agenda, also called for the separation of the Attorney-General and the Public Prosecutor to remove a conflict of interest especially in regards to cases against government officials, as the Attorney-General acts as the government’s legal advisor.

Furthermore, the agenda called for the strengthening of the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 and the Witness Protection Act 2009 to better protect those who disclose corruption scandals.

GIAT is made up of the IDEAS, the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism, Sinar Project, Transparency International Malaysia and Friends of Kota Damansara.

The five-point agenda, that comes right before the upcoming general elections also called for the enactment of a Freedom of Information law and review the Official Secrets Act 1972, the implementation of budget and expenditure transparency, and the requirement by law that all political parties declare all forms of income and expenditure.

The full framework should be released within a month.