PETALING JAYA: An anti-graft NGO supports the move by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to set-up 24-hour operation centres for the 14th general election (GE14).
The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) said this in a statement today in response to an announcement by MACC chief commissioner Dzulkifli Ahmad on Tuesday.
He had revealed plans to establish round-the-clock operation rooms in each state to monitor corruption and abuse of power for GE14, and will be ready to take in reports of violations of the Elections Act and the MACC Act.
“The operation rooms are an extremely welcome move by the MACC towards building institutions that prevent electoral malpractice.
“However, we are concerned that if the centres are poorly publicised and underutilised by the public, the efforts may be in danger of turning into a mere publicity stunt,” C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said.
Calling the MACC’s plans something that Malaysia “sorely deserves”, she said that steps also need to be taken to ensure that civil society can fully utilise the planned 24-hour operation centers.
“Therefore, for MACC’s efforts to be utilised to its full potential, civil society groups and the public at large must be engaged in a meaningful way to act as their eyes and ears,
“This includes coming up with a list of what constitute as malpractice for the public to easily identify violations, and for MACC to proactively investigate digitally published videos of corruption violations rather than just waiting for formal reports.”
Gabriel said having such centers catering towards electoral malpractice will be useful to groups like Pemantau, who were themselves formed because of the lack of institutional support for monitoring corrupt practices during elections.
“Before this, there was hardly any direct cooperation with existing good governance civil society groups to observe, document or report abuse of power and money politics during elections.
“We see this as a key opportunity to engage as a whole-of-systems approach in the fight against corruption,” Gabriel said, adding that in the meantime, C4 has reached out to several state MACC offices, and hope to receive a positive reply soon on further cooperation ahead of GE14.
She said that MACC stands to gain in terms of the public’s confidence in the anti-graft agency, by acting proactively to deter corrupt electoral practices.
Gabriel then cited the report, “The Roles and Functions of the EC and MACC in Addressing Corrupt Practices at Elections”, published by C4 in November 2017, saying it highlighted the issue of how civil society groups were having difficulty finding the correct agency to report electoral malpractice.
“It is imperative that corrupt practices during elections cannot be allowed to repeat and many were observed in the last general election.
“In the same C4 report, we also highlighted that there were clearly documented cases of money politics being used to win votes. These are considered bribery and treating, which are in violation of the Election Offences Act 1954,” she said.
Gabriel added that such corrupt practices are likely to be rife in GE14, hence much needs to be done to prevent it.
On the part of civil society and the wider public, she called for them to prepare themselves with an action plan to engage MACC as much as possible by reporting corrupt practices to such operational rooms in GE14.
“The public can take advantage of widely available technology in mobile phones to snap photos and take videos of suspected violations which will be useful as evidence to ensure that violations can successfully be prosecuted.”