KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — An anti-corruption group has called for Malaysia to have more independent investigators and prosecutors to avoid the recurrence of corruption cases involving senior politicians, such as those faced by the country’s former prime minister and his then deputy.
Transparency International-Malaysia’s (TI-M) president Datuk Akhbar Satar said it was “alarming” to see top politicians globally, including in Brazil and Malaysia, being involved in corruption charges, noting that widespread corruption in needy countries would see scarce resources being siphoned away from the poor to a small group benefiting such politicians.
“In the case of Malaysia, both the former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are now being charged with multiple charges of offences for criminal breach of trust (CBT), money laundering and graft. MACC deserve to be congratulated for their achievement where they have created history.
“It seems that both the politicians were not acting in the public interest when they were holding the office in the former government and they may have used their powers as a shield against the investigation and prosecution,” he said in a statement today.
Admitting the “sad” problem of systemic corruption in Malaysia, Akhbar said the country needs to identify a long-term anti-corruption strategy before the situation worsens.
“One of the most important issues which needs to be addressed is on the independence of institutions such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), Royal Malaysia Police Force (PDRM) and Auditor-General’s Department as it would allow them to discharge their duties professionally and most importantly without fear of or favour to any particular individuals or parties,” he said.
He proposed that Parliament be given the role of deciding funds and the heads of these institutions, which he said would prevent interference by the executive.
“The allocations and the appointment of the future chiefs to these institutions must be decided by the Parliament to avoid the repeat of similar corruption cases again and involving the senior politicians using executive power to manipulate the judiciary and legislative branch for their own political interest,” he said.
“We must also recognise the importance of educating the citizens at large to come forward and to report any wrongdoings and most importantly the assurance on protection and confidentiality by the enforcement agencies must be guaranteed,” he added.
Saying that politicians need not be equated with abuse of power, he urged Malaysia to prove this point as the country had already in the 14th general election sought to make a change for the better by bringing down allegedly corrupt political parties.
Akhbar’s statement comes just a day after Zahid was charged with 45 counts ranging from alleged criminal breach of trust of RM20.8 million, alleged acceptance of bribes of RM21.25 million and alleged money-laundering of slightly over RM72 million.
Najib himself had in the past few months been charged thrice and is now facing 32 charges ranging from criminal breach of trust, power abuse and money-laundering. The sums linked to these charges are RM42 million said to belong to 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s former unit SRC International Sdn Bhd and an amount of over RM2 billion.
The trials for both Zahid and Najib’s criminal cases have yet to start.