Independent ACA: Oh, really?

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I hate to pour cold water on the euphoria over the announcement of an independent ACA. But what else can you think when you read between the lines of the following NST/Bernama report?

Notice that what will be independent is the Advisory Board to the ACA. So the board can only advise the ACA, but presumably the ACA is free to reject the “advice”. It would only be in terms of recruitment etc.

But who is ultimately responsible for the ACA then? The Parliamentary Committee? No way, Jose!

“There’s always a minister, anywhere in the world, responsible for any institution set up. And I will be responsible for the institution,” said the PM.

So how is that different from before, when the ACA was answerable to the PM? Is he just playing with words again – similar to his apology to the 1988 judicial crisis judges that wasn’t an apology but just an ex gratia payment in recognition of what they had to endure?

Why can’t he just say the ACA will be fully independent, answerable and responsible to Parliament and no one else – full-stop? What’s so difficult about that? Why does the PM need to be “responsible” for the ACA, like some kind of chaperone?

Will we see some ACA action in the 18 high-profile corruption cases? (As they say, the proof of the durian cake is in the eating…) Don’t count on it.

ACA to be made full-fledged commission by year-end

By BERNAMA

2008/04/21

The Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) will be made a full-fledged commission to include a system of effective checks and balances and will be more independent in terms of its operations, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today. The prime minister said this was one of the four key reform initiatives that would be carried out by the government by year-end in the move to address the public concerns on corruption in the country.

Abdullah said the key element of the commission would be the establishment of an independent corruption prevention advisory board whose members would be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the prime minister.

“Board members will advise the commission on administrative and operational matters. The board will also be briefed on cases that involve public interest and consequently can enquire or recommend that certain measures be undertaken.

“Most importantly, the board will act to assure the public that these public interest cases are being dealt with appropriately and adequately,” he said in a keynote address at the Asean Integrity Dialogue 2008, here.

Abdullah said a parliamentary committee on the prevention of corruption would also be established, to which the commission would table its annual report. Members of the committee could seek further clarification and explanation on the report.

He said the three other reforms were adding 5,000 more officers at all levels from various fields of expertise in the next five years to enhance the anti-corruption force as well as offering attractive new terms of service; introducing a legislation to provide comprehensive protection for whistle blowers and witnesses; and improving the public procurement process through measures that target and address specific problem areas in the system.

“I have directed the chief secretary to the government to work together with the Pemudah team to formulate a framework to improve the public procurement process, making it more transparent and accountable,” he said.

(Pemudah is a public-private sector initiative which aims to simplify business operations in Malaysia by improving government services.) Elaborating on the commission to reporters later, Abdullah said that though the commission would be required to table its annual report to the parliamentary committee, he would be responsible for the commission.

There’s always a minister, anywhere in the world, responsible for any institution set up. And I will be responsible for the institution. In all the cases that we have studied it is the same because the government is responsible to parliament. They are representatives of the people, so they have to explain everything (to the people),” he said.

Touching on the independence of the commission, the prime minister said it would be independent in terms of recruitment as well as having its own policies, among others.

“It will have the power to hire and fire (personnel). It will have its own policies in terms of what it has to do. So that’s how they are going to operate.

“The Securities Commission also operates in the same way but it still has the minister responsible – the Minister of Finance,” he said, adding that it also meant more power for the commission to make decisions on many matters on its own.

Abdullah said the commission would be established based on the models of various countries known to be among the best in the world, such as Hong Kong’s.

On the parliamentary committee members, he said he would discuss with members of parliament on whom they wanted to sit on the committee.

To a question whether today’s announcement and the other reforms announced by him over the last several days were in response to the people’s message through the ballot box in last month’s general election, Abdullah said it was part of his efforts to fulfill the promises made during the 2004 general election.

“My critics will say anything. If I had done it before they would say I want votes. If I don’t do it, they would say I have forgotten my promises. All of these were in my manifesto for the 2004 elections.

“The manifesto of the 2004 elections is not just for a four or five-year term. It is intended for the longer term. Vision 2020 is what we want to achieve. It is a matter for whoever the prime minister is at that time but we must take the motion to make the reform.

“Reforms cannot be made quickly without really thinking about what needs to be done. You just can’t reform for the sake of reform. If the reforms are not effective, then they don’t mean anything,” he said.

Abdullah said he could not deliver on his promises much earlier as there were other matters that demanded priority. “But I don’t forget my promises. I will do it (fulfill them) when the time comes,” he said.

On a question about the legal protection of whistle blowers and witnesses, Abdullah said the attorney-general had already begun to work on it.

“But I would like to remind that while it is necessary to have this protection, it doesn’t mean there is unfettered freedom to just write about anything and everybody. I want them to be responsible for their report. They must know exactly what they say and the basis of their report,” he said.

Earlier, in his speech, Abdullah said he and the government were still very much committed to their pledge to fight corruption in the country.

He said vigorous efforts taken by the government over the past four years had yielded some positive results but the public expected more due to the fact that today’s citizens were better educated and more sophisticated in their thinking.

Abdullah said that following initial feedback from the public, the government found that the public’s frustration with today’s situation stemmed from three main sources.

“Firstly, people feel that the institutional and legal framework for anti-corruption remains structurally weak and therefore prone to abuses. They point to the need for a clear separation of powers between the institution of government as well as a higher degree of transparency and public accountability from enforcement agencies,” he said.

Secondly, said Abdullah, people perceived that anti-corruption enforcement was slow and inconsistent as some had said that the so-called “big fish” were protected while the “small fry” faced the full brunt of the law.

“Thirdly, many people feel that the existing public procurement system and procedures for awarding government contracts are rife with opportunities for corruption,” he said….

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racheljansz

Guys No point kow peh kow boh la. You and I know that 22 years of patronage under the tutelage of Master TDM, you still think there are no skeletons in their closet? This corruption thing isn’t going away any time soon with your complaint. And it is no big secret this needed to save his struggling political life. Sudah di takdir la. His days are numbered! He is going after legacy and if he does pull it off, it will be a good result for Rakyat and Malaysia. Can I trust Badawi pull it off? Need I be so… Read more »

Navi

Mr. Abdullah could have been a great towering Malaysian if only he had done half the thing he had promised to. His PMship has been a period of pompous slogans, and contradictory statements from his cabinet. The sudden reformations he promises is left to be seen. Till the commissions are in place, we will accept that Mr. Abdullah is at his empty promises again. What happened to the report on the “correct,correct,correct” video. Its months since the tapes were released and we are yet to see affirmative action. What hopes do we really have for these reforms to take place… Read more »

DanielYKL

Sorry Mr PM. Looks like nobody has taken your words seriously. No nobody would believe what you said. So don’t say anything, just pack and go. Nobody would miss you either.

raj raman

HI anil, Press or demand or even start a rally.BRING BACK THE JURY SYSTEM IN OUR COURTS. Lets the jury decide on any legal matter.The judge can be the moderator.Its can be for corruption or high profile case.tHE TAX PAYER MONEY BELONGS TO US NOT PM.SO ANY COVER UP ON CORRUPTION SHOULD BE REFER TO COURT. This goverment or goverment in waiting will abuse their power. Even any public project so call for public interest the contractor name,company directors should be listed. Must be open tender and the consultant for the project should be change when opening the tender box… Read more »

UMNO member

As long as ACA reports to the governing party, there is no independence. The ACA should reports to a Special Committee consisting of members from BN, PR and member of public (e.g BAR council). Special Comm will be answerable to Parliament only. We should learn from HK and Singapore on this matter but knowing how stuborn someone is, I doubt that will happen.

Tony Chew

I will not hold my breadth. Nothing that the UMNO govt. does is credible. UMNO has been ruining Malaysia for the last 50 years.

Ginger

Unfortunately, it has come to the point where anything he announces, I take it with a pinch of salt until I see REAL action and effectivness. Remember IPCMC, eradicate corruption, improving delivery system and many many more? You can con the people sometime but not all the time. We’ll wait and see if all these are just sandiwara to save his struggling political life.

donplaypuks

It is as clear as daylight. Rip Van winkle & Rosemajib, and for the matter, any UMNO leader cannot/will not, allow the ACA a free-hand. A truly independent ACA might open up the pandora’s box and out will come all the corrupt misdeeds of the past 30 years. We might end up seeing (almost) the entire BN Cabinet, current and ex, behind bars!! How about that? So, they will still have their ‘golden share’ to squash any investigations of the past, including those which my look into corrupt actions by Maha…. The only possible way for an ACA to operate… Read more »

John Keadilan Borneo

Thats right En abdul farouk..

Every proposal from BN these days get crappier and s***tier… he he he

Pulling wooool over our eyes.

the only hope is a strong opposition in Parliament, or keep changing government everytime they become corrupted.

Malaysia yg di sayangi

Don’t bulls*** AAB,Independent ACA. It would be VERY disadvantage to BN,so would it happen?

Abdul Farouk

Invite the high court judge who was forced by Mahathir to resign to be the Chief of Anti-Corruption. The AG forced that judge to leave the judiciary because he made comments against a tycoon and then the tycoon went on Morocco holidays with the AG and his wife…sickening and immoral.
I am told by several friends that the said Judge was a successful Customs investigator and prosecutor and an Anti-Corruption analyst.
God Help Malaysia!

Andrew

It’s like asking the cat to look after the cat who’s looking after the milk.

sob... sob

We, Malaysians, are STUPIFIED by STUPID words of a STUPID Pee ‘Empt.
….

ghenjis khan

Promises promises … jam yesterday jam tomorrow but no jam today …. [ and we are not even talking about the traffic]

crumpets anybody?

elloh

Cheeeesh!!!

This fellow is still trying to pull the wool over our eyes! He must think we are stupid, even though we have proven otherwise in the GE12!!! He is not even good at double speak!

As the Western movies depict – This man speaks with a fork tongue!

tuabak

Andrew’s cat-cat-milk metaphor is 100% “correct, correct, correct” That sums up another of the numerous Pee Eem’s wayang which is only good at first sight. Just wait and see how independent is the ‘independent’ commission. “Reforms cannot be made quickly without really thinking about what needs to be done. You just can’t reform for the sake of reform. If the reforms are not effective, then they don’t mean anything,” he said. Of course, we all know that, stupid! What he is trying to say is “you people may not live to see any reforms…(dream on, malaysians..) don’t you see i’m… Read more »

Anak Malaysia

Anil, watching the goings on in my homeland, I can say that I do not see any real change in the crap that comes out from Abdullah Badawi. An Independent ACA ? My a** !!!! As you correctly pointed out, the PM suffers from diarrhoea of the mouth and I must liken him tto what the Red Indians in USA of old say of the White settlers ” White Man (Replace that with PM) speaks with Forked Tongue. What the PM and the BN leadership fail to realise is the fact that Malaysians have had enough of the lies and… Read more »