In light of the recent announcement by the government to review the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption (GIACC) whose key functions were to monitor the implementation of the national anti-corruption plan, the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 center) would like to express that we hold no objections to the decision.
Likewise, we hold the same view with regard to the government’s intention to slash out overlapping institutions for effective administration. However, the primary focus should be steered back towards the aim of establishing a strong entity that can drive a stellar anti-corruption agenda for the country.
The effectiveness of the GIACC has been hindered due to changes in the administration over the last three years and amid the political instability, the lack of political drive and will to push for intended reforms had been gravely affected.
As a result of that, only less than 30% of the initiatives from the national anti-corruption plan have been realised so far.
In view of this, the anti-corruption agenda must be revived and be made the current government’s top priority to accomplish. Elements from the national anti-corruption plan that were supposed to have been already implemented, must be given a whole new focus.
C4 Center would like to take this opportunity to extend its offer to work closely with the current government to accomplish this agenda.
The other important issue to note is how the functions of the GIACC, or any mirror organisation to it, must never be placed under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) because the MACC’s primary function is as an investigative body.
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As much as the MACC needs greater independence, the institution itself definitely still needs to be reformed in terms of its appointment process and be given more investigative powers, for example, to investigate the unexplained wealth of politicians, and business entities.
To this end, the national anti-corruption plan and the anti-corruption agenda need to be moved by an entity that needs to report directly to Parliament and the prime minister.
As such, C4 Center recommends the following:
- Establish an independent section in Parliament be it special select committees or an all-party parliamentary group comprising MPs from both sides of the divide that is robust and proactive in overseeing this entity
- Refrain from placing the functions of the GIACC under the MACC as the latter should remain an investigative body
- Scrap any overlapping, unnecessary institutions
In addition to that, we are aware that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has shown he holds no outright aversion towards the involvement of politicians in the management of government-linked companies. It is worth highlighting that the current situation pertaining to appointments to government-linked companies is obscure.
It is important to note that while there is no deterrence to stop politicians from applying for certain positions, what is highly recommended in this situation is for politicians not to be made chairpersons or executive directors in government-linked companies.
Hence, a long-term law that clearly sets out the guideline to approach this important aspect that increases good governance on a larger scale with a solid regulatory mechanism must be immediately established.
C4 Center would like to propose the following measures:
- Introduce a law to regulate government-linked companies to improve their management and oversee the membership make-up of the boards of such companies
- Form an independent commission to vet the appointments of the chairpersons, CEOs and board members of government-linked companies and the manner in which these entities operate
- Open up the appointment system by ensuring that a certain level of open applications to the public can be made possible. This would increase transparency and build a genuine meritocratic system that encourages competition among the brightest of minds and enables capable individuals from among the business, academic and even professionals from civil society sectors to apply for posts in government-linked companies
- Dissolve non-performing or dormant government-linked companies
The above recommendations are made in good faith of the government’s vow to fulfill the anti-corruption agenda for Malaysia which has been a long time coming and to ensure that a positive environment in the government-linked companies sector can be now nurtured to move the economy forward and secure the future and overall wellbeing of the nation in the long run. – C4 Center