The first reading of the Bill was presented in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday on July 24 and today, four days later, we are debating its second reading. Although Parliament has four days to debate the Anti-Corruption Bill, this cannot be a subsitute for a meaningful public involvement, consultation and feedback as the second reading of a Bill in Parliament represents the final stage in the formulation of a Bill when by convention and tradition, the government is very reluctant to modify the Bill, not only on substance but even in terminology - where the second-reading debate is a mere formality for Parliament to perform its true role as a rubber stamp to approve whatever is presented to it by the Cabinet. This reverses the fundamental principle of Executive responsibility to Parliament into Parliamentary responsibility to the Executive!
It is most unfortunate that public involvement, consultation and input in the enactment of a law which should set the country on the path of good government and clean society in the new millennium, which is one of the nine strategic objectives of Vision 2020 for Malaysia to become a fully developed nation – namely a fully moral and ethical society - had been totally absent.
Up to now, only a handful - and this would include Members of Parliament - have seen or read the full contents of the Bill. Although the DAP has again performed a national service in posting the Anti-Corruption Bill on the Internet through the DAP homepage, very few had access to the Bill. None of the NGOs, for instance, and this includes the Bar Council and HAKAM, has yet got a copy of the Bill and the government has not made any effort whatsoever to get the views or inputs of organisations which have not only direct interest but special expertise to advise in this area of legislation.
Let us remedy this serious blemish in the formulation and enactment of the Anti-Corruption Bill by allowing a full and wide-ranging debate on the very important subject as how to combat corruption in Malaysia and how we can create a new culture of integrity in political life and public service with zero tolerance for corruption, where Malaysia can be universally recognised as one of the world’s top ten cleanest nations in the world instead of being ranked No. 26 out of 54 countries in the 1996 Transparency International international perception corruption index.
I think I dare say without fear of contradiction that although the Anti-Corruption Bill has been received with mixed feelings, the Bill is generally supported by all MPs and Malaysians who are concerned about the scourge of rampant corruption in the country.
In view of the fact that all MPs support the Bill, I would like to propose that the ruling and opposition parties remove the Whip in the debate on the Anti-Corruption Bill to allow all MPs to speak and vote freely according to their conscience whether to endorse or oppose particular provisions in the Bill and amendments which might be introduced, whether by the Government or MPs – whether from ruling or opposition parties.
In fact, I would propose that at the end of the second reading, the Anti-Corruption Bill should be referred to a Select Committee to hold public hearings to fully involve civil society participation in the formulation of an anti-corruption law which could be accepted as a world model.
This is one of the consensus reached at the Round Table (II) on the Anti-Corruption Bill which was held at the Swiss Garden Hotel, Kuala Lumpur yesterday which was attended by distinguished Malaysian personages who have vast experience and knowledge in the fight against corruption, whether as prosecutor, investigator, judge, legal practitioner, academician, like Tan Sri Harun Hashim, the first Director-General of the ACA when it was formed 30 years ago and the reputation and public confidence in the ACA had never been higher than when it was under the leadership of Tan Sri Harun Hashim;Raja Aziz Addruse, President of HAKAM and former Bar Council President; Datuk Param Cumaraswamy, another former Bar Council President; Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas, Malaysia’s world authority on corruption who was given international recognition by being appointed member Governing Board of Transparency International, Dr. Jomo K.S., Malaysia’s outstanding economist and Tunku Aziz, Convenor of Transparency International Malaysia.
The Round Table (II) on the Anti-Corruption Bill was the third civil society initiative in the past two weeks to create public awareness and mobilise public concern and support about corruption to create a new culture of integrity in political life and public service with zero tolerance for corruption.
The first initiative was the Round Table on Corruption - Assembly of Voices held at Tropicana Golf and on Country Club 13th July 1997 which I had convened as Parliamentary Opposition Leader and which was conceived as a gathering of eminent personages to give their views and proposals as to how a new political culture of public integrity with zero tolerance for corruption could be created as the prerequisite for a good government and a clean society.
The panellists of this first Round Table Conference, apart from Tan Sri Harun Hashim, Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas, Datuk Param Cumaraswamy, Dr. Jomo K.S. and Tunku Aziz also included former Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin, undoubtedly the most famous Auditor-General in Malaysian history; veteran journalist Tan Sri Samad Ismail; Director of Just World Trust Dr. Chandra Muzaffar; President of FOMCA, Prof. Hamdan Adnan; Secretary-General of HAKAM, Gurmit Singh and MP for Parit Sulung and Chairman of BackBenchers’ Club, YB Ruhanie Ahmad.
The second important civil society initiative towards the same objective to strengthen the national integrity system was taken when the Barisan Backbenchers’ Club, together with Institut Kajian Dasar (IKD), Asian Strategic and Leadership Institute (ASLI) and the Centre for Leadership and Development Studies (CELDES), brought together political parties, government agencies, the private sector, trade unions, the consumer movement and NGOs in the historic "Consensus Against Corruption" Conference at the Putra World Trade Centre on July 19.
The "Round Table on Corruption - Assembly of Voices" came out with a Ten-Point Consensus on combatting corruption while the "Consensus Against Corruption" Conference issued a most seminal 16-Point Declaration.
There is no better start for the debate on the Anti-Corruption Bill than to consider these two important civil society documents on the war against corruption and to examine how the Bill had matched the various criteria set by these two documents as vital prerequisites in a successful and sustained fight against corruption.
The Ten-Point Consensus of the first "Round Table Conference on Corruption - Assembly of Voices" on July 13 was as follows:
The 16-Point Declaration of the "Consensus Against Corruption" Conference on July 19 was as follows:
The 16-Point Declaration was drafted by a committee comprising YB Ruhanie Ahmad, Tan Sri Harun Hashim, Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar as well as Dato’ Shafee Yahya, Director-General of Anti-Corruption Agency, Tony Kwok Man-wai, Deputy Commissioner, Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, Corporate Adviser to Sungei Way Group, Dato Michael Yeoh, Director/Executive Vice President of the Asian Strategic and Leadership Institut, Abdul Rahman Adnan, Director Institut Kajian Dasar and Dr. Zambry Ab. Kadir, Executive Director of Centre for Leadership and Development Studies (CELDES).
As the Anti-Corruption Bill before the House is not only to establish an Anti-Corruption Agency, but "to make further and better provisions for the prevention of corruption and for matters necessary thereto or connected therewith", it should have dealt with all the aspects and problems of corruption as highlighted in the 10-Point Consensus of the Round Table Conference of 13th July 1997 and the 16-Point Declaration of the Consensus Against Corruption Conference on 19th July 1997.
Defined simply, corruption is the misuse of public power for private profit. Corruption involves behaviour on the part of officials in the public sector, whether politicians or civil servants, in which they improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves, or those close to them, by the misuse of public power entrusted to them.
Corruption can also be described as representing non-compliance with the "arm’s-length" principle, under which no personal or family relationship should play any role in economic decision-making, be it by private economic agents or by government officials. The arm’s-length principle is seen as fundamental for the efficient functioning of any organization.
At the Round Table (II) on the Anti-Corruption Bill yesterday, Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas raised the pertinent point as to why there is no definition of "corruption" in the Bill although it has a definition of "gratification", which is only a part of corruption. May be we can get a reply on this query by Dr. Syed Hussein during the Minisisterial winding-up.
Apart from the failure to fully involve the civil society and concerned Malaysians in the formulation of the Bill, its failure to address in a comprehensive manner with the problem of corruption as identified by the 10-Point Consensus and the 16-Point Declaration is the next blemish of the Bill.
For instance, the first item of the 10-Point Consensus called for "Public and Periodic Declaration of Assets and Liabilities by all members of Parliament and State Assemblies".
Why was this important subject left out of the Bill, when under Section 8 of the Bill, the prevention of corruption is being specified as one of the statutory duties of the Director-General of the ACA.
In October 1977, I had moved a motion in the Dewan Rakyat seeking leave of the House to introduce a private member’s bill, to be known as Ministers and Members of Parliament (Declaration of Assets) Act, where I said:
"The Prime Minister, Datuk Hussein Onn, has a personal reputation of being opposed to corrupt practices, the country has a National Bureau of Investigations, and every now and then we read of departmental heads requiring their public servants to declare their assets. But it cannot be denied that corruption in Malaysia is a rampant problem, with many top political and public servants possessing unaccounted wealth and property.
"In Malaysia the problem is not ikan bilis corruption, but corruption in high political and public places. In my mind, there cannot be any effective war against corruption in the country unless there is an honest and incorruptible political leadership, where every political leader is prepared to subject himself regularly to public scrutiny and accountability to demonstrate that he has not abused his public or political office for personal monetary gain."
It has been said that the example set by leaders and high-ranking public officials is crucial to the achievement and maintenance of an effective national integrity system. But the critical question down the ages of human history has always been, as so well put in Juvenal (Satires, vi.347): Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who shall guard the guards?)
This is why a periodic and public declaration of assets by political leaders and high-ranking public officials, particularly by MPs and Assemblymen, which would include Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Mentri-Mentri Besar, Chief Ministers and State Executive Councillors, is so fundamental in any national integrity system.
Such a public and periodic declaration of assets by MPs and Assemblymen should form the apex of a system of checks and balances to create a self-sustaining "virtuous circle", in which the principals at risk - whether political leader, public officer or judge - are all monitored, by themselves and by others.
Monitoring corruption cannot be left only to public prosecutors and to the forces of law and order. Action cannot depend solely on detection and criminal prosecution. Rather, action must include a combination of interlocking arrangements. In part, this approach includes improving the transparency of relationships, and to the extent possible, preventing the development of relationships which can lead to corruption. It includes transparency in the financial affairs of key players and the prospect of reviews being conducted by independent institutions which are likely to be outside any particular corruption network.
The challenge therefore is to construct a transparent and accountable system, which has two primary objectives: the first is to prevent corruption from taking place, and the second to make the principal players believe that there is a realistic chance of corruption being detected.
One of the key instruments for maintaining integrity in political life and public service is the periodic completion by all those in positions of influence of returns of their income, asset and liabilities. Although the disclosure of assets and income will, of course, not be accurately completed by those who are taking bribes, it will, however, force them to record their financial positions, and, in so doing, lay an important building block for any subsequent prosecution. It would, for example, dissuade them from suggesting that any later wealth that has not been disclosed was, in fact, acquired legitimately.
If Parliament is serious in wanting the country to embark on an all-out war against corruption, then the political leadership, starting with Members of Parliament should set an example of integrity by amending the Anti-Corruption Bill to provide for annual public declaration of assets by Members of Parliament, which should be kept in a register in Parliament accessible to members of the public.
I propose to amend the Anti-Corruption Bill to provide for the annual public declaration of assets by MPs during the Committee stage, and I hope that this will get the support of MPs regardless of party affiliation.
The amendment I propose to move on declaration of assets by Members of Parliament during the Committee Stage will read as follows:
" (1) Every member of Parliament shall furnish to Parliament, which shall be kept in a register accessible to the public, a sworn declaration of assets, income and liabilities.
(2) A declaration shall be furnished pursuant to sub-section (1) within three months of becoming a Member of Parliament in respect of his assets, income and liabilities for the year ended on the previous 31st December; and thereafter on the 31st December in each year that he is a Member of Parliament, in respect of his assets, income and liabilities as at the 31st day of December in that year, so, however, that a declaration required to be furnished on the 31st day of December in any year shall be deemed to comply with the requirements of this sub-section if it is furnished before the 1st day of March next following that date;
(3) Every declaration furnished pursuant to this section shall be verified by sworn affidavit as to the truth and accuracy of the contents of such declaration.
(4) (i) A declaration required under this Act shall include such particulars as are known to the declarant of the assets, income and liabilities of himself, of his spouse and of his children:
(a)if the spouse was not ordinarily living with the declarant for a continuous period of three months during the period in relation to which the declaration is made; or
(b)if a child of the declarant was not ordinarily living with the declarant at any time during the period in relation to which the declaration is made,
the particulars required to be furnished by this subsection shall be limited to assets held by the spouse or child (as the case may be) in trust for, or as agent of the declarant.
(ii) A declaration may be accompanied by a statement of affairs certified by a chartered accountant if the declarant so thinks fit. (iii) Where a Member of Parliament holds money or other property in trust for another person, he may so state in his declaration, but shall not be required to disclose the terms of the trust.
(iv) For the purposes of a declaration under this Act, the income, assets and liabilities of a Member of Parliament include the income, assets and liabilities acquired, held or incurred by any other person as his agent or on his behalf.
(5) Any Member of Parliament who (a) fails without reasonable cause, to furnish a declaration under this section; or (b) knowingly makes any false statement in such declaration,
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding RM20,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both such fine and imprisonment."
I submit that if Parliament is prepared to amend the Anti-Corruption Bill to provide for an annual public declaration of assets, there would be no more potent message to the country and the world about Malaysia’s seriousness and commitment to create a new culture of integrity in political life and public services with zero tolerance for corruption.
Closely tied to the subject of integrity of political leaders is the third issue in the Ten-Point Consensus calling for greater transparency in the funding of political parties.
Political parties, especially those in the ruling government, are expensive to run. Many countries have implemented mechanisms to ensure that the fundraising process by political parties do not distort the political system and skew the democratic structures in favour of those with access to money - but there are no signs that we in Malaysia are yet prepared to give this subject serious consideration although money politics in Malaysia has reached such a serious stage that the Prime Minister was moved to tears at last October’s UMNO General Assembly warning about how the cancer of money politics can lead to the ruination of the party, race and nation.
Unless the political funding process is made transparent and political parties are required to disclose the sources of sizeable donations, the public is left to draw its own conclusions when it sees those suspected of funding political parties openly benefiting from handsome privatisation contracts and other government business.
Malaysia should emulate the example followed by some other countries which are concerned about the corruption of money politics and I call for legislation to provide for greater transparency in funding of political parties and also to provide for a centralized election fund so that political parties would not be too over-dependent on business donations creating an unhealthy patron-client relationship which is not conducive to a new culture of integrity with zero tolerance for corruption.
If Malaysia is to aim for the Vision 2020 objective of a fully moral and ethical society, we must strive to be a corruption-free society. This is why the tenth issue in the 10-Point Consensus underlined the fundamental importance of "creating a new culture of integrity in political life, administration and the public service with zero tolerance for corruption through inculcation of moral and ethical values in the family, school and religion."
In the final analysis, however, what is most important is the unanimity reached by the three civil society initiatives in support of the all-out war against corruption - the first Round Table Conference on Corruption and Assembly of Voices, the Consensus Against Corruption Conference and the Round Table (II) on the Anti-Corruption Bill - that no out war against corruption can succeed unless the top political leadership is fully committed to declare Corruption as the Public Enemy No. 1 in Malaysia.
Recently, high hopes had been generated among the people that the top political leadership really means business and that the all-out war against corruption, launched by the Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim under the directive of the Prime Minister, Datuk Ser Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on his two-month "working leave", would not end like previous anti-corruption campaigns with a lot of thunder but with no rain.
The highly-publicised campaign for a "Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy" Government in 1981 for instance fizzled out in a slew of corruption and accountability scandals or 15 years later, or the Prime Minister would not have to shed tears over the subject at the UMNO General Assembly.
In fact, 22 years ago, at a Joint Meeting of UMNO Youth and Wanita UMNO in June 1975, the then Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Hussein Onn, famous in the annals of Malaysian history for his personal integrity, gave a stirring speech on corruption, condemning it as "deviations in the country’s development" which left unchecked would "sap the fibre of the nation and bring about decadence". He pledged that the government would expose these corrupt practices "irrespective of who are involved – be they mouse-deer or dragon". But this pledge also came to naught.
Let us be honest and courageous enough to admit that in recent days, the skeptics that the declaration by the then Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that "Now is the time to act…we will catch the big ones and we will catch the small ones" would be translated into reality or that the government would have the political will and commitment to create a new culture of integrity in political life and public service with zero tolerance for corruption seem have won the day.
I had hoped that on the issue of creating a new culture of integrity in political life and public service, the entire national society could be united on a common ground, including all political parties, all branches of government and the civil society.
This was why in a statement on 19th June 1997, I made the following stand:
"I call on all Malaysians to take the high ground of patriotic Malaysians who want corruption weeded out of Malaysia and not to approach it from any narrow, sectional or political party point of view.
"Let all Malaysians, regardless of party, embrace the all-out war against corruption initiated by the Government, and see it from the standpoint of Malaysians who want Malaysia to stand tall in the world on the issue of a clean government and a good society and the united national commitment to fight corruption, and to stop seeing it from Barisan Nasional - whether UMNO, MCA, Gerakan, MIC - or Opposition -whether DAP, PAS, PBS - point-of-view.
"Let us all take the position that every political leader, regardless of whether in government or opposition, must be clean and honest and support that any corrupt leader, regardless of political party, whether in government or opposition, should be brought to justice.
"I would call on the Barisan Nasional government leaders not to be worried about partisan considerations in the all-out war against corruption fearing if Barisan Nasional ‘sharks’ are arrested for corruption, it would redound to the credit of the Opposition and be adverse to Barisan Nasional chances in the next general elections.
"This is a great mistake. If the Barisan Nasional government shows that it is now prepared to declare an all-out war against corruption, and to ‘catch sharks’ and not just go for the ‘ikan bilis’, the Barisan Nasional would earn widespread national support which would be converted into votes for the Barisan Nasional in the next general elections.
"If I am selfish and only interested in party political advantage, I would not want the government to take action against any ‘ikan yus’, but to continue to catch the ‘small ones’ while indulging in meaningless talk about sparing no one who is corrupt which is not backed up with any action.
"Let me state that if the Barisan Nasional government is really prepared, for the first time in Malaysian history, to launch an all-out war against corruption, and in the process win popular support at the expense of the DAP in the next general elections, this is a price the DAP is prepared to pay and worth paying in the larger national interest.
"What patriotic Malaysians should worry is that the all-out war against corruption just initiated by the government would fail, as successful anti-corruption reform efforts anywhere in the world have been rare and unfortunately the failures have been numerous.
"If Malaysia is to embark on an all-out war against corruption, the government should not only go after the ‘big ones’, it should be prepared to create systemic changes to bring about a culture of public integrity among political leaders and the public service."
Overnight, however, the climate seems to have changed, and this can be discerned from the changed atmosphere in a space of a few weeks – from the first Round Table Conference on Corruption held in Petaling Jaya on July 13 and the Consensus Against Corruption Conference held at Putra World Trade Centre on July 19 on the one hand and the Round Table on the Anti-Corruption Bill yesterday on the other.
It would not be wrong to say that the climate appears to be quite "wintry" and I know for instance of mass media which have scrapped plans to provide full support to the all-out war against corruption because of the sudden change of climate, and the enthusiasm they have shown for this crusade seems to have withered away.
In Malaysia, spring is very short before winter sets in. This is very sad.
However, this is the challenge to all Malaysians who are committed to the cause of integrity in political life and public service – that they must be able to sustain their commitment regardless of the season, whether spring, summer, autumn or winter.
Successful anti-corruption reforms had been rare in human history, while failures had been numerous – with grandiose promises and the conspicuous inability to deliver, in many cases, with genuine intentions which are overwhelmed by the size of problem of corruption. Sometimes of course, the anti-reform postures were just postures with no expectation that any meaningful change will follow – and the best example is of course former President of South Korea, Roh Tae Woo, who at his inauguration vowed that he intended to be the cleanest President in his country’s history but who is presently in prison convicted of a host of major corruption charges.
It should be instructive for Parliament as well as Malaysians to reflect on a analysis which has been made by Transparency International in its "The TI Source Book - National Integrity Systems" on eight major causes of past failures of anti-corruption efforts made by human societies:
Let me come to the Bill proper before the House. The Round Table on the Anti-Corruption Bill held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday reached a five-point consensus on the Bill:
Firstly, that it should be referred to a Select Committee to allow for a proper process of public consultation and participation.
Secondly, the need to ensure the the Anti-Corruption Agency is independent and enjoys public confidence in its impartiality and professionalism.
Thirdly, opposition to Section 20 which creates the new offence entailing RM100,000 fine, ten years’ jail or both for any person who makes a false statement on corruption.
Fourthly, the need for Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen to publicly and periodically declare their assets, income and liabilities.
Fifthly, the need for a definitive and clear-cut provision to make it an offence for those holding public office who has pecuniary resources or property or maintains a lifestyle disproportionate to their known sources of income.
It is most ironical that although the importance of enlisting and fostering public support in combating corruption is for the first time given statutory recognition in Section 8 on the Bill, the government has failed to enlist and foster public support for the Bill.
All anti-corruption efforts, whether involving reforming public programmes, reorganising government or strengthening enforcement, need public support if they are to succeed. Anti-corruption campaigns cannot suceed unless the public is behind them. If ordinary people and businesses at all levels of society are used to dealing with the state through a system of "payoffs", it will be difficult to change attitudes.
This is why it is most unfortunate that the government had neglected to enlist public support in formulating the new Anti-Corruption Bill not only to ensure public participation and input, but even more important, to secure public confidence that the Anti-Corruption Bill is a landmark development marking the government’s political will and commitment to wage an all-out war against corruption, whether ikan bilis or ikan yus.
The various new proposals in the Anti-Corruption Bill have in fact given many important quarters the opposite impression - as for instance the provisions undermining the position and authority of the ACA Director-General who already does not enjoy public confidence for his independence; section 20 on false reports with its oppressive sentences which seems to be designed to protect the corrupt rather than encourage expose of corruption; and the public disappointment that there is no clear-cut provision to make unexplained wealth or living standards above that which is commensurate with present or past emoluments of a public officer an offence and the confiscation of these corrupt ill-gotten gains despite an earlier public announcement that this would be done.
All the three civil society initiatives - the two Round Table Conferences and the Consensus Against Corruption Conference - are unanimous in wanting to have an independent Anti-Corruption Agency which enjoys public confidence in its independence, impartiality and professionalism.
The Round Table on the Anti-Corruption Bill yesterday is gravely concerned that far from strengthening the independence of the ACA, the Anti-Corruption Bill has downgraded the independence and authority of the ACA Director-General, making him subservient to the Attorney-General in his capacity as Public Prosecutor, even in matters concerning the operational independence of the ACA.
The Bill, for instance, has removed the powers of the ACA Director-General as a Deputy Public Prosecutor under the Criminal Procedure Code which is currently provided in the Anti-Corruption Agency Act 1982.
Thus, section 5(1) of the Anti-Corruption Agency Act states:
"5(1). The Director-General of the Agency shall have all the powers of a Deputy Prosecutor under the Criminal Procedure Code and all the powers of an officer of the agency."
Section 376(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that a Deputy Public Prosecutor "may exercise all or any of the rights and powers vested in or exercisable by the Public Prosecutor by or under this Code or any other written law except any rights or powers expressed to be exercisable by the Public Prosecutor personally."
Section 376(4) reads: "The rights and powers vested in or exercisable by the Public Prosecutor by subsection 3 and sections 68(2), 184(2), 381, 385 and 386 shall be exercisable by the Public Prosecutor personally."
As the eight sections mentioned whereby the rights and powers of vested in or exercisable by the Public Prosecutor could only be exercised by the Public Prosecutor personally have nothing to do with the anti-corruption laws, this would mean that under the Anti-Corruption Act 1982, the Director-General of ACA had full independence, not only in terms of investigations, search, seizure or arrest, but also with regard to prosecution - as all the powers which are mentioned as exut also with regard to prosecution - as all the powers which are mentioned in the Prevention of Corruption Act 1962 and the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance No. 22, 1970 as exercisable only by the Public Prosecutor are also exercisable by the ACA Director-General because of Section 5 of the ACA Act, which confers on him the powers of a Deputy Public Prosecutor.
The legal powers and position of the ACA Director-General is not in any way altered although in practice, after the tenure of Tan Sri Harun Hashim as ACA Director-General, the ACA Director-General had ceased to decide on prosecutions after the completion of ACA investigations.
If the powers of the ACA Director-General as DPP is to be removed, at least he should have full operational independence, and he should be able to exercise all the powers in Part V of the Bill with regard to investigations, search and seizures without having to seek the approval of the Public Prosecutor, who should only decide at the end of ACA investigations whether prosecution should be initiated.
The argument for the removal of the DPP powers of the ACA Director-General is that it is necessary to have a system of check-and-balance, with investigation vesting in the ACA while the decision on prosecution devolving on the Attorney-General as Public Prosecutor.
What about check-and-balance on the Attorney-General as Public Prosecutor especially in the light of the recent history of selective prosecution by the Attorney-General, which he had not been able to rebut despite very serious allegations being made inside and outside Parliament?
I welcome the proposal by the Consensus Against Corruption Conference on July 19, where one of its 16-Point Declaration called for the formation of an oversight committee to review cases submitted by the Anti-Corruption Agency to the Attorney-General but never prosecuted. I hope all MPs would support this proposal.
I have an amendment proposing that the ACA should be independent and answerable only to Parliament - and this is the only way the ACA can command public confidence in its independence, impartiality and professionalism.