KUALA LUMPUR: The removal of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers from government agencies, including those classified as high and medium risk, has not gone down well with those encouraged by the country’s progress in the war against graft.
Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang, who is former chairman of the Special Committee on Corruption, MACC’s oversight panel, said the commission should have allowed these Certified Integrity Officers (CeIOs) to stay put and continue with their efforts to eradicate corruption.
“What is important is their effectiveness. I have observed MACC’s tremendous achievements and it has proven its ability to combat corruption and abuse of power efficiently.
“There is a need for an independent body to be in the system so that it can carry out its duties without fear or favour.
“In fact, MACC should be able to intensify its efforts so that the country can improve its standings in the Corruption Perception Index,” said the former Dewan Negara president.
Abu Zahar said having MACC officers in government and government-linked agencies would enable the commission to take immediate action upon receiving complaints or detecting graft.
“Putting MACC officers there has proven to be effective… taking them out will disrupt the momentum,” he added.
Transparency International Malaysia president Datuk Akhbar Satar said among the disadvantages of having Administration and Diplomatic Service (PTD) officers in the integrity unit was that dirt, if there was any, might not be cleaned up entirely.
“They will become like auditors, but they will be dealing with their own departments, and the good name of their agency will be put at risk,” he said.
The National Integrity and Good Governance Department, he added, should also figure out and put in place an effective and fool-proof whistle-blowing mechanism.
“There will be a huge problem when it comes to whistle-blowing, as only enforcement agencies, such as MACC, police and the Immigration Department, have the power to protect their sources under the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010.
“So, if they replace MACC’s CeIOs with PTD officers, it only means that whistle-blowers can only go straight to the commission.”
He said those in the integrity units must possess certain qualities and have no record of any wrong-doing or misconduct, as well as be seen as clean and independent.
They, he added, must also prove that they were fearless and would not think twice about going up against their superiors if the latter went rogue.
“It should be made clear in their contract that their services cannot be terminated unless they commit disciplinary breaches.
“They must have knowledge of corporate governance, laws on corruption, experience in investigations and internal control policies, and knowledge on risk management, business risk and cybercrime.
“The government should also require these integrity officers to undergo programmes and courses that would certify their abilities,” he said, adding that the officers must at least work closely with MACC.