MACC is only allowed to net ikan bilis but not ikan yus (sharks) in Malaysia

The end of the year underlines one important aspect about the anti-corruption campaign in Malaysia – the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is only allowed to net ikan bilis but not the ikan yus (sharks) in Malaysia, or the MACC itself will be targeted by the powers-that-be in the country and those responsible will be punished and disempowered.

This was highlighted by the end-of-the-year corruption news of the “transfer out” of the six senior officers in the MACC Special Operations Division (Bahagian Operasi Khas – BOK) who were directly involved in the SRC International investigations.

As reported by Malaysiakini, the six who were transferred out included Tan Kang Sai, the division’s deputy.

The special division was formed in 2010 to handle high-profile cases as well as cases involving corruption of more than RM1 million.

Two from the team were transferred out in October, while the rest, including Tan, were removed this month. Some of the posts vacated by those transferred out of the special unit have not been filled.

According to Malaysiakini, four of them had been transferred to MACC’s investigation division, while others were transferred to state MACC offices and other government agencies.

Their transfers came in the wake of an earlier transfer at about the same time last year of BOK’s deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Ahmad Shazalee Abdul Khairi.

Ahmad Shazalee, who was the DPP involved in remanding a number of key witnesses in the SRC International probe, was initially transferred to another department in MACC, but earlier this year he was moved to the Attorney-General Chamber’s Trial and Appeals division.

Malaysiakini quoted sources that the “transfer out” of the six MACC officers could be yet another move to further derail the commission’s investigations into SRC.

The SRC, which was previously a subsidiary of the troubled sovereign wealth fund 1MDB and now under the Finance Ministry, was probed for depositing RM42 million into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s personal bank account.

Malaysiakini also reported the downsizing of the special investigation division, which was also responsible for probing the Felda purchase of hotel property in London and the water infrastructure corruption case in Sabah.

Malaysiakini’s report has not come as a surprise to Malaysians or to foreign observers of developments in Malaysia, as this is the reason for the drop and decline of Malaysia’s position in Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index, both in ranking and score.

Although the former Transparency International Malaysia President Datuk Paul Low had been induced and co-opted by Najib to be a Minister in his Cabinet and appointed as the Minister in charge of integrity and good governance, Paul Low dared not appear in Parliament to answers questions about government integrity or the campaign against corruption.

He always left it to the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Razali Ibrahim to answer issues about corruption, integrity and transparency.

It was in the winding-up of the 2017 budget debate in Parliament in November that Razali made the startling statement that Sabah’s Watergate scandal did not involve any politician, either from Sabah or at the federal level as the MACC investigation only focused on the involvement of government officers who took bribes or abused powers.

Who would believe Razali that no politicians were involved in Sabah’s Watergate scandal where MACC itself said that 60 per cent of the RM3.3 billion earmarked by the federal government to improve water supply to Sabahans had been “siphoned off” by corruption, and where the MACC had the biggest ever seizure in its 49-year history, recovering RM114 million from the two top officials of the Sabah Water Department – including RM53.7 million in cold hard cash in Malaysian and various foreign currencies which took more than 30 MACC officers 15 hours to count?

If only government officers were the only culprits involved without political leaders as the real masterminds in the Sabah Watergate corruption scandal, then corruption in Malaysia is even worse than everybody had expected!

I for one do not believe Razali, and I trust that the overwhelming majority of Malaysians agree with me.

It is clear that the MACC remit does not extend to deal with Barisan Nasional leaders involved in corruption – the “ikan yus” – and unless the MACC has the independence and professionalism to deal with the corrupt, without fear or favour, however high their position, the war against corruption will never come near the anti-corruption campaign in China or Indonesia, where “tigers” and “crocodiles” are caught and jailed for their corruption offences.

It is significant that the latest international news on the campaign against corruption is the announcement in China of new anti-corruption pilot schemes in Beijing, Shanxi and Zhejiang to create an independent watchdog role, similar to the highly successful Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in Singapore and the Scandinavian ombudsman system, which will be independent of the Communist Party of China which has a stranglehold of key state positions.

Malaysia is losing out in the international anti-corruption battle front, as countries with reputation of being more corrupt in the past have either overtaken or about to overtake Malaysia in terms of public integrity of government and political leaders.

What is worse, Malaysia is now regarded worldwide as a “global kleptocracy”.

Will the MCA President and the MP for Bentong, Liow Tiong Lai, raise this important issue in the first Cabinet meeting of the new year on Wednesday, 4th January 2017?

(Speech at the DAP ceramah at Simpalek N/V, Raub on Sunday, 1st January 2017 at 9 pm)

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