I REFER to the announcement today by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner Datuk Abu Kassim Mohammed. He said that with immediate effect, the MACC would enforce an existing ruling prohibiting those who lodge reports with the commission to inform the public, including the media, on the matter. This would be so that it would not be “common knowledge” who and what the anti-graft authorities were investigating.
Under Section 29(4) of the MACC Act 2009, a report shall be “kept secret and shall not be disclosed by any person to any person other than officers of the commission and the public prosecutor, until an accused person has been charged in court for an offence under this Act or any other written law in consequence of such report, unless the disclosure is made with the consent of the public prosecutor or an officer of the commission of the rank of commissioner and above.”
It is clear under the law that any person, including the media, is prohibited to disclose the report lodged with the MACC before the accused being charged in court.
I fully understand that there is a need by the MACC to keep certain cases private as the element of secrecy may be crucial in their investigation. However, at the same time, Malaysians have a right to know if there is any report made to the commission, in particular those cases involving government departments and states agencies.
Eradication of corruption in Malaysia should be transparent. Such transparency would also serve as a check and balance on the efficiency of the MACC. If the reputation of the accused person is unjustly affected by the publication of the reported case, then the accused could always file a civil suit in court for damages under defamatory action.
Thus, I would propose that:
the government should consider repealing Section 29(4) of the MACC Act 2009 to promote transparency in eradicating corruption in Malaysia; and
the MACC should not invoke Section 29(4) of the MACC Act.
Tan Keng Liang
Kedah Gerakan Youth Chief
13 Jan 2010