Saturday, December 13, 2008

MACC - principles of indepencence and parliamentary accountability too watered down

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Bill is so watered down that the principles of its independence from the Prime Minister’s control and accountability/responsibility to Parliament can be quite tenuous and even fictitious.

The original intention to amend the Constitution to give the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission a constitutional status has been abandoned while there is no clear-cut provision to establish its responsibility and accountability to Parliament.

Five bodies will be set up under the MACC Bill to hold a close watch over the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to ensure its independence, transparency and integrity, viz: Anti-Corruption Advisory Board; Special Committee on Corruption; Operations Review Panel; Corruption Prevention and Consultative Council; and a Complaints Committee.

However, all these five scrutinizing bodies, including the Special Committee on Corruption which is to comprise of Parliamentarians, are all beholden to the Prime Minister or the Executive, making nonsense of the principle of parliamentary responsibility of the MACC.

As proposed, the Special Committee on Corruption consists of seven members of Parliament from both Dewan Rakyat and Senate to be appointed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong, which means on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Furthermore, the bill provides that the seven MPs shall be nominated by the Leader of the House of Representatives, who again is the Prime Minister , rendering the whole arrangement quite ludicrous – the Leader of the House (who is the Prime Minister) advising the Prime Minister to advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong on the appointments.

As the Special Committee on Corruption is to comprise MPs, why is the Prime Minister shy in calling it the Parliamentary Committee on Corruption?

Is this just to give the impression of some form of “parliamentary” scrutiny without actually permitting robust and proper parliamentary stewardship?

If such a Parliamentary Committee on Corruption is to be meaningful, its composition must reflect the parliamentary representation of the different political parties in the House and its membership decided by MPs themselves and not by the Executive. Furthermore, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Corruption should be an Opposition MP.

I will propose amendments to the MACC Bill to strengthen the principle of the MACC’s independence from Executive control and reinforce accountability/responsibility to Parliament during the committee stage of the debate on the MACC Bill.

(I have been informed that Parliament is posting up the two bills - MACC Bill and JAC Bill - on its website. Kudos to Parliament,which has been responsive to my request for the uploading of these two bills to enable all interested the opportunity to study and comment on them before Parliament starts debate on the MACC Bill on Monday. Of course, all bills presented to Parliament for first reading should be posted up at the Parliament website as a matter of course. - Kit)

source YB Lim Kit Siang

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