I HAD the privilege of meeting Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin recently. He spoke of the need to effectively communicate to the people of the work done by the current government. Much has been accomplished to date, but alas, the perception remains that not much has been achieved since GE14. Malaysians, he added, were inclined to believe that nothing had changed since Pakatan Harapan took over.
In my area of work with the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption (GIACC) I know that we have rolled out more than 80 initiatives since our inception.
The National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) 2019-2023, which was worked on with stakeholders from the public and private sectors, and civil society, was launched in January. It aims at making Malaysia corrupt-free through three specific goals — ensuring accountability and credibility of the judiciary, prosecution and law enforcement agencies; efficiency and responsiveness in public service delivery; and integrity in business.
The focus of NACP is to address corruption at all levels (federal, state and local) of the government as well as the private sector. Following GIACC (which reports directly to the prime minister), a Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption (Jawatankuasa Khas Kabinet Mengenai Anti-Rasuah — JKKMAR) was formed (comprising senior ministers, public officials and chaired by the prime minister) to expedite NACP initiatives.
Some of the key accomplishments of GIACC and NACP include restoring the dignity of Parliament with the set up of six parliamentary select committees whose members comprise members of parliament from both sides of the house last August.
Efforts have also been extended to implementing a policy on the declaration of assets by administrative and parliamentary members. The government also issued a directive that there will no longer be political appointments for Malaysian heads of mission posts.
There are other initiatives related to strengthening governance, integrity and eradicating corruption which are ongoing. The initiative to limit the prime minister’s term to two terms is underway. This requires amendments to the Federal Constitution. The reform of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is also underway. The recommendation for the appointment of MACC chief commissioner will be done via a parliamentary select committee. This was approved by JKKMAR. MACC has to amend Section 5 of the MACC Act 3 to have this implemented.
The other crucial reform underway is the separation of the responsibilities of the attorney-general and the public prosecutor. Again this requires changes in the Federal Constitution which can only be passed with a two-thirds vote in Parliament.
To ensure the transparency of the electoral system, which has been scrutinised in the last few general elections, the Election Commission is reviewing the entire electoral process. The status report will be presented to the JKKMAR in this second quarter. One of the key areas being studied is political financing.
Establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) has been one of the most awaited reforms. The police have come under heavy criticism for a long time. The drafting of the bill for IPCMC is in its final discussion with the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
Another reform to prevent abuse of power is empowering the public service by setting a limit on the involvement by administrative members (politicians) in the appointment of secretaries-general and directors general which typically comes under the purview of the Chief Secretary with recommendations from the respective ministries and the Public Service Department. The Malaysian Ombudsman Act is another reform to replace the Public Complaints Bureau.
Leakages and failure in governance related to government linked companies (GLCs) and agencies, such as the case of Felda, have also been addressed. The JKKMAR has also directed the Finance Ministry to prepare guidelines for the appointment of senior management, chairman and board of directors in GLCs and their subsidiary companies. There shall be no political appointees in GLCs.
Procurement is seen as one of the areas most prone to corruption and this is being reviewed by the Finance Ministry. Other areas that are work in progress include 115 initiatives outlined under the NACP. Finally the JKKMAR has agreed that as part of the reform agenda on governance, integrity and anti-corruption, Malaysia should promote its work in international institutions.
Given the space herein, this is a truncated list of the work being done at GIACC to date. Our role is to institute and rebuild the people’s trust in our public governance and its institutions. The onus, therefore, is on us to communicate and explain to all levels of society what we have achieved so far. We owe it to our 32 million stakeholders.
The writer is deputy director-general of National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption, Prime Minister’s Department