Don’t shoot the messenger: Recordings revealed by MACC are of public interest

MACC chief Latheefa Koya

On 8 January 2020, at a press conference, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) released nine secretly recorded telephone conversations.

The recordings were purportedly conversations between high-ranking government officials including ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak and even a member of royalty from the Middle East about a probe into the 1MDB financial scandal.

MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya said the MACC resorted to this action as the conversations were of immense public interest involving alleged abuse of power, criminal conspiracy, obstruction of justice and possibly the compromising of national security. The MACC was apparently concerned that without this public disclosure, important information might remain concealed.

Soon after the MACC’s disclosure, certain lawyers and concerned groups reacted unfavourably to the release of the recordings. They felt the expose was improper and could amount to sub judice or contempt of court and lead to trial by media (though this may no longer apply with the abolition of jury trials).

Then there is the whole question of intrusion of privacy through tapping of phone conversations and whether this is constitutional. This must be dealt with in due course.

We note all these legal, procedural and ethical concerns and recognise the possible invasion of privacy.

But the extraordinary circumstances deserve consideration. This was no trivial or salacious matter. The previous kleptocratic government was embroiled in what was internationally regarded as one of the world’s largest financial scandals (if not the largest), adding to the country’s serious debt. The recordings released by the MACC provide valuable background context to some of the manoeuvring that was going on behind the scenes and the personalities involved.  

READ MORE:  The Najib Razak 1MDB Trial Ep 57: No action taken

Considering the gravity of the circumstances, the public interest and the pursuit of truth and accountability might be better served through the release of the recordings, overriding the other concerns mentioned.

The public have a right to demand that leaders – even those in the highest echelons of power – who abuse their power should be made to account for their actions.

Aliran executive committee
17 January 2020

Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
18 Jan 2020 2.44am

Wholeheartedly agree with this article that, on balance, it was definitely the right decision for Latheefa to release this information to the general public. These are civil servants plotting to cover up the largest financial scandal from their masters, the citizens of Malaysia, and they should be exposed to enable us to make our own judgment on their suitability. Let them explain their side of the story (if they can).

17 Jan 2020 11.09pm

I dont live in Msia but truly salute MACC released the recordings to allow us Msians living overseas to understand the plots and intrigues under Najib govt in which media expose is clamped and mouth sealed and superglued so that any goings on are not leaked to rakyat and the mob denied any wrongdoing when RMbillions are siphoned off. Who are we to believe and trust, the mob, media, Aliran, Msiakini, FMT, RPK (his comments are twisted anyway) or Utusan? 3 cheers for MACC, Msia is on right path to democracy and media freedom, telling nothing but the truth.