KUALA LUMPUR – As the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) heightens efforts to combat graft, politicians from all divides must have faith and confidence in the Commission to accomplish the task entrusted to them.
Former Independent Commission Against Corruption of Hong Kong (ICAC) Commissioner Bertrand de Speville stressed that the Commission should be allowed to get on with the job of implementing national anti-corruption strategies without having to encounter any political interference.
Cautioning politicians against “second guessing” the MACC,
de Speville remarked that presenting the MACC 2011 Annual Report to parliamentarians is a step towards more accountability and transparency. However, he said that this should not serve as an opportunity for politicians to start “second guessing” the anti-corruption body in its investigations into any particular cases, although they can question the report.
“When they start to second guess the Commission, they begin to undermine the independence and investigations autonomy of the of the anti-corruption body. And they will serve the country ill by doing that,” he warned.
Since stepping down in 1996 as the Commissioner of ICAC Hong Kong, de Speville has advised governments and international organizations on various aspects of anti-corruption policy and practice. From year 1997-2003, he was the adviser to the Council of Europe’s Multidisciplinary Group on Corruption.
A lawyer by profession, he practiced in the private and public sectors in London and Hong Kong and was Solicitor General of Hong Kong before being asked to turn his attention to corruption and good governance. This is his fifth visit to Malaysia.
Praising the MACC for being accountable to representatives of the public, de Speville noted that it is essential for the Commission to have friends in the local communities. He pointed out that the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board members serve as ambassadors to the public as they are first hand witnesses to the initiatives taken by the Commission.
“The Anti-Corruption Advisory Board is invaluable not only as a source of advice to the Commission but it also serves as check and balance. The board monitors the Commission on behalf of the community and board members can better gauge the Commission’s performance,” he said on 28 June 2012, during a visit to the MACC.
This, he said, helps to develop and sustain public support in what MACC is doing since public support is essential for the success against corruption.
“If you do not have public support, you cannot win the fight,” he added, besides stressing the need to equip the national anti-corruption body with sufficient funds and resources.
“It is not enough to have fine plans and great works. You have to back it with resources,” he said.