Openness, Transparency and Accountability are Indispensable to Eradicate Corruption — Steven Thiru

PRESS RELEASE: Openness, Transparency and Accountability are Indispensable to Eradicate Corruption
Source: The Malaysian Bar

Logo-majlis-peguam-malaysia-malaysian-bar-councilThe Malaysian Bar is very perturbed by recent reports that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (“MACC”)’s special operations division is being downsized[1], six of its senior officers are being transferred,[2] and its director Bahri Mohamad Zin has taken optional retirement, reportedly due to his unhappiness over the alleged inaction in respect of investigations into SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.[3]  The division reportedly handled high-profile cases relating to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”) and Federal Land Development Authority (“FELDA”).

These developments are disquieting because they reinforce the public perception that although one-and-a-half years have passed since it was revealed that funds of about USD700 million (approximately MYR2.7 billion) were transferred between private banks, offshore companies and funds linked to 1MDB, and then deposited into the personal accounts of the Prime Minister in AmIslamic Bank Berhad,[4] the authorities are reluctant or unwilling to get to the bottom of the serious allegations of financial impropriety concerning 1MDB, and bring action against those guilty of any wrongdoing.

This is in stark contrast to the developments in at least 11 countries — Australia, British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, and Venezuela — where there have been investigations, measures imposed on financial institutions, criminal prosecutions and convictions, and proceedings for forfeiture of assets.

These actions raise serious questions regarding the investigations that are apparently being conducted in our own jurisdiction, and expose the lack of transparency regarding the findings.  It is indeed unsettling that no one has yet been prosecuted in Malaysia for any of the allegations. Read more

When silence isn’t golden: Top officials ‘mum’ on scandals, reasons for quitting — K Haridas

Source: Aliran

BY K HARIDAS

A cage used for illegal immigrants found at a human-trafficking camp in Wang Kelian, near the Malaysia-Thailand border of Wang Kelian, recently. – Photograph: Hasnoor Hussain/The Malaysian Insider

We miss out on opportunities to rectify weaknesses in the system when few are willing to speak out against wrongdoings or are held accountable, says K Haridas.

We are a nation that moves from one headline to another, each more startling than the earlier, with very little to show in terms of accountability.

Scandals – who is responsible?

Some time ago we heard about undocumented migrants and the number that had perished along the Malaysia-Thai border. This hit the headlines and it was difficult for the Malaysian police to deny knowledge.

Dozens of secret camps with about nearly 140 graves were discovered along the Malaysia-Thai border, used by people smugglers. Our police chief said we have been building up information and vowed tough action against Malaysians involved. Have we heard of any action to date? Were the Malaysian and Thai authorities aware of this illegal and perhaps lucrative activity?

No wonder Malaysia is listed in tier three of the US State Department’s annual human trafficking report – amongst the worst ranking countries failing to stop such trade.

Powerful forces are at work, and it is not good enough for the Malaysian police and immigration officials to just explain this away. Read more

Ambiga: AG’s discretion not absolute, can be challenged in court

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Ambiga said those who understand the international scenario will know that similar people-organised tribunals are held globally and have provided a platform for people to come forward and give their evidence. — Picture by Choo Choy May

Ambiga said those who understand the international scenario will know that similar people-organised tribunals are held globally and have provided a platform for people to come forward and give their evidence. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — The Attorney-General (AG) does not have absolute power in deciding whether or not to press charges and his decisions can be questioned in the courts, prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today.

Ambiga said there was no such thing as an “absolute power in a democracy” and asserted that the AG’s discretion still has to be exercised reasonably and after taking into account proper factors.

“And we have now a case, which is the Rosli Dahlan case, decided by Justice Vazeer, upheld by the Court of Appeal, that the AG’s discretion can be questioned, it is not absolute, it is open to review,” the former Bar Council president told reporters when met at the court complex. Read more

Public Prosecutor accountable to public in exercising prosecutorial power — Lim Chee Wee

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY LIM CHEE WEE

JANUARY 15 — The Attorney General (AG), the Public Prosecutor, promised that he will study recent high profile cases according to the law, acting without fear or favour, and acknowledged that public trust and confidence in the justice system depends on a certain amount of transparency and openness in the prosecution of cases.

These declarations beg three questions — what does the law say as to how the AG should exercise his prosecutorial powers, what are the limits on such powers and what is the extent of his accountability to the public.

Article 145 of our Federal Constitution merely states that the AG shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings of an offence. However, AG has yet to disclose his policies and principles of prosecution. Read more

Restore integrity – Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)

THE jail term imposed on Khir Toyo for corruption committed while he held the people’s trust as the mentri besar of Selangor shows the level to which our political leaders have descended to. This is not the first such case. Another Selangor MB was also jailed for corruption. A Johor MB was exposed by the Supreme Court of usurping land meant for army veterans for himself and his cronies. The 1980s cooperative scandals resulted in jail terms of political stalwarts. The PKFZ scandal implicated high-ranking politicians.

Although prosecutions are far and in between – a tip of the iceberg as not all cases are “discovered” or revealed – it reflects the unabated decay of the body politic.

Corruption is more than a matter of jailing wrongdoers. It diverts or denies services intended for the people, it empties state coffers. Ultimately it bankrupts nations.

Invariably, the corrupt disguise the gratification they receive. These ingenious contrivances are criminal nonetheless, as the MACC Act makes clear. A corrupt “gratification” can be in the form of money, donation, gift, loan, fee, reward, valuable security, property or interest in property, financial benefit, or any other similar advantage. Read more

Why Malaysia’s good grades in an anti-money laundering report don’t matter

Source: The Malay Mail Online

ANALYSIS, Sept 22 ― Malaysia received good grades in an international report on its fight against money laundering, but the news barely caused a ripple and public perception of corruption remains negative.

International newswire Reuters reported last Wednesday a draft report by Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international organisation that monitors how countries combat illicit financial flows, as saying that Malaysia has a “robust policy framework” as well as a “strong political commitment and well-functioning coordination structures” to fight money laundering.

“Improving anti-money laundering laws is only one part of good governance. Equally important, if not more so, is improving accountability of public finances and the management of domestic resources. There is a perception that the former may have improved; the latter has not,” Asian Development Bank lead economist (trade and regional cooperation) Jayant Menon told Malay Mail Online. Read more

Cease government action against The Edge — Institute of Journalists Malaysia

Source: The Malay Mail Online

SEPTEMBER 21 — The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) welcomes the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision today to quash the government’s suspension of the publishing licences of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily.

High Court judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad ruled that the Home Ministry acted illegally and irrationally in issuing the three-month suspension order. She noted that the Home Ministry’s show cause letter to The Edge publisher did not specify which articles the government found to be undesirable.

The IoJ urges the government not to appeal against the High Court ruling in the interest of press freedom, transparency and public accountability.

The government should, instead, exercise its right of reply and explain its side of the story on any issue in order to meet its obligations to the public interest, especially when it concerns public funds.

The press can only function in the public interest if it has the independence to report without fear or favour. The government has no right to license the press and should abolish its licensing regime with immediate effect.