Press Release: The Malaysian Bar Commends and Supports MACC’s Proposals

Thursday, 23 May 2013 08:17pm
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The Malaysian Bar commends and supports the initiatives by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (“MACC”) headed by its Chief Commissioner Dato’ Sri Haji Abu Kassim bin Mohamed. The MACC is an important and indispensable institution in the fight against corrupt practices and for the prevention of corruption.

The recent proposal by the MACC, through its Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel (“CCPP”), as reported in the news media on 21 May 2013, that all elected representatives in Parliament and State Assemblies should declare their assets every three years, is a positive step towards promoting good governance, integrity and the rule of law.

In this context, the Malaysian Bar proposes that the need to make such declarations not be confined to elected representatives in Parliament and State Assemblies, but be extended to include all public officials.

The definition of “public official” under Article 2(a) of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (“UNCAC”), which Malaysia signed on 9 December 2003, and subsequently ratified on 24 September 2008, should be adopted. It defines “public official” as:

(a) any person holding a legislative, executive, administrative or judicial office; and
(b) whether elected or appointed, whether permanent or temporary, whether paid or unpaid, and irrespective of that person’s seniority.

In this regard, the Malaysian Bar had applauded the announcement, made by the Chief Justice in January 2012, that superior court judges will be required to declare their assets.

The extension of the need for such declaration of assets to include all public officials would ensure that our practices are consistent with UNCAC standards. It would serve to encourage and create an environment and culture of transparency and accountability by public officials. It would also strengthen the various institutions in which these public officials serve.

The Malaysian Bar further supports the MACC’s call for:

(a) A total prohibition against family members and all government administrators, including cabinet ministers, chief ministers and state executive councillors, from bidding for government contracts; and
(b) An implementation and enforcing of a cooling-off period before retired civil servants are permitted to hold positions in the corporate sector or professional practice.

The Malaysian Bar however proposes that the cooling-off period be at least two years instead of one year, and that it be applicable not only to retired civil servants, but to all retired public officials of senior positions.

The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Government to introduce the relevant legislation to provide for mandatory compliance of the above proposals, and to empower MACC to have wide investigative powers to verify and audit the declarations of assets. At present, MACC only has powers of investigation when it has reason to suspect the commission of an offence, following a report of an offence made to it or from information it receives.

MACC should be given the fullest support in its work, and the Government should introduce further legislative provisions to provide for:

(a) MACC to have independent prosecutorial discretion and power, that is, it should have discretion to institute prosecutions and to conduct such prosecutions;
(b) MACC to report directly to Parliament; and
(c) MACC to have an independent Service Commission.

With these proposals in place, the Malaysian Bar is confident MACC will be strengthened and better placed to investigate every allegation raised of corruption. The Malaysian Bar is prepared to render its assistance to, and cooperate with, MACC to achieve the objective of preventing corrupt practices.

Christopher Leong
President
Malaysian Bar

23 May 2013

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