by Ida Lim
Malay Mail Online
September 4, 2015
PUTRAJAYA, Sept 4 — Malaysia’s handling of the investigative process of state-owned firm 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion controversy involving the prime minister will be a “test” of the independence and strength of the country’s institutions, seasoned anti-corruption advocate Akere Muna said today.
Muna, who chairs the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) council, said the solution for the controversies faced by the country would have to be both political and systemic.
“This is a systemic test of the country and the way it gets out of it will determine the strength of the system,” he said in an interview here.
“The way all of this plays out, you will be able to judge the autonomy of MACC, the independence of the judiciary and whether the powerful can be treated differently,” said Muna, who is also a lawyer and former Cameroon Bar Association chief.
“It’s a test, and from that test, you will know whether your country needs systemic adjustment,” the former vice-chair of global watchdog Transparency International added.
He said the way a democracy’s key institutions — the judiciary, the executive and the legislature — function are key in producing a country based on the rule of law.
Noting that systemic failure would lead to impunity, Muna said a country’s system should be “robust enough to allow all the institutions to play their role fully”.
Muna stressed the importance for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to be independent and autonomous, but noted that media reports suggest that it is not “fully independent” with officers said to be taken off during ongoing investigations.
Early last month, several senior MACC officers were arrested and quizzed over an alleged leak of official information.
The MACC was then in the midst of a still ongoing probe on former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International and a RM2.6 billion donation that made it into the prime minister’s private accounts.
Muna pointed out that independence is not given but is “claimed”.
“So I think the MACC should act independently and without fear or favour and affirm its own independence,” he said, having referred to the anti-graft body’s independence requirement in line with Article 36 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) which Malaysia is a signatory to.
The theme of the three-day 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference hosted by Malaysia and ending today is “Ending Impunity: People, Integrity and Action”.