The MACC must first investigate the two elephants in their room, namely the 1MDB scandal and the killing of Teoh Beng Hock some eight years ago, writes Francis Loh.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission tells us that it is serious in combating corruption and wishes the rakyat to back them in this battle. To this end, it claims it lacks personnel to perform a more comprehensive job.
Investigating more cases of corruption, however, will not convince the rakyat of the MACC’s sincerity. There are two elephants in the MACC’s room right now, namely, the 1MDB fiasco, the biggest single case of abuse of government funds in Malaysia’s history; and the Teoh Beng Hock killing in the MACC in Shah Alam, still unresolved after more than eight years. Both must be addressed by the MACC if it wishes to convince the rakyat that it is serious in eradicating graft and corruption in Malaysia.
The Umno-BN government should allocate more funds for the MACC so it can overcome what it calls “a new challenge in its fight against graft”: namely, a lack of manpower!
In a passing-out ceremony of 233 newly trained MACC officers, Chief Commissioner Dzulkifli Ahmad complained that the government had promised in 2008 to increase the number of personnel to 5,000.
Yet, today, there are only 2,100 personnel. He also revealed that about 2,000 of these officers were being deployed to take care of 1.6m civil servants. “We are not even talking about GLCs (government-linked companies), statutory bodies and the private sector,” he stated in exasperation.
No wonder Malaysia’s ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Index has been rising. And the MACC’s image in the eyes of Malaysians does not appear to be improving. No doubt, there are serious implications for those wanting to invest in our country too.
Yes, more personnel must be appointed to the MACC.
Meanwhile, given its limited personnel, the MACC should prioritise investigating the big fish, the sharks, rather than the anchovies or ikan bilis.
And yes, go for the cases of grand corruption rather than those relatively small cases of corruption, often involving the Opposition – the most recent involving aides of a PKR MP for a paltry sum of RM20,000, which surely smacks of witch-hunting.
I have no doubt that a better job can be done with more personnel.
I also note that the MACC, finally, has moved to weed out chronic corruption in Felda Golden Ventures and in Mara. Seriously, the Opposition was having a field day exploiting these well-known cases for political expediency. But transferring Mohd Isa from Felda to Spad suggests to us that the government is not serious about getting rid of corruption in the GLCs and in high places.
Two elephants in the room
That said, two elephants in the room need to be confronted if the MACC wishes to improve its reputation among Malaysians, climb down the Corruption Index, and instil confidence among foreign investors.
First, it must immediately prioritise an investigation of the financial fiasco surrounding 1MDB, which has already been conducted in six countries, leading to the seizure or freezing of assets in at least two countries, and take steps to have those responsible for the fraud committed to court.
For the life of the nation, why isn’t the MACC leading the charge against such massive corruption in this case? If it is being prevented from acting by the powers that be, be transparent and share that information with the rakyat. No additional personnel will enhance the MACC’s reputation if it does not engage with this outstanding case of fraud and corruption, which is right in its face.
Second, it has been eight years since the Teoh Beng Hock tragedy, which occurred in the MACC complex in Shah Alam. Recall that was an inquest was held initially which resulted in an ‘open verdict’. Concluding the inquest led to suggestions that Beng Hock had comitted suicide.
In a subsequent Commission of Inquiry, Justice Mah Weng Kwai, reading one of the three judgments, declared that the open verdict in the inquest was incorrect, ruling out that Beng Hock had committed suicide.For Justice Mah it was clear that the correct and “proper verdict to be returned in the inquiry was one of death caused by person or persons unknown”.
Accordingly, he pronounced:”Every effort must be made to track down the perpetrator or perpetrators in a thorough police investigation. No one should be spared in the investigations so that there will be no allegations of a cover up.” Yet, this case has not proceeeded in the following years.
There is so much to investigate: who were the perpetrators? Who covered up and tampered with evidence? Who gave false evidence? And ultimately, who approved this improper investigation? Following this new investigation, the perpetrators must be charged, those involved in this coverup tried and punished.
In this regard, we fully support the call by the Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy which urges the newly appointed Inspector General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun to reinvestigate the death of Teoh Beng Hock and prosecute MACC officers who were involved for causing Teoh’s death, as strongly suggested by a Court of Appeal ruling on 5 September 2014.
The members of Teoh’s family and board members of the Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy are ready to meet the inspector general to provide necessary information, as well as register their dissatisfaction over police investigations under the former inspector general, who it appears was not interested in carrying out an independent, professional and transparent new investigation, as proposed by Justice Mah.
Imagine the investigating officer admitted that he had failed to conduct a thorough investigation on the possibility of homicide, because he had presumed Teoh’s death was a suicide!
Yes, the MACC must carry out a new investigation into Teoh Beng Hock’s case and work closely with the six countries that are investigating – or have already investigated – the 1MDB scandal. Both these cases must take centre-stage if the MACC harbours any hope of convincing the rakyat that it wishes to eradicate corruption.