(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The Anti-Corruption Agency director-general, Datuk Shafee Yahya, said yesterday that the ACA was investigating several senior State government officials and politicians believed to be involved in 10 cases of graft involving RM80 million.
He said the cases involved large sums of money with the biggest case involving RM42 million and concerned abuses of powers in land deals and other major transactions, with some of the land deals involving land totalling thousands of hectares.
While the Malaysian public welcome the announcement by the ACA director-general that it is not completely inactive but had been investigating 10 cases involving RM80 million, there is general disappointment when they read that the ACA had begun investigations into these cases four years ago, for the immediate conclusion is that all these cases would end up as "unresolved" cases, or to use a term applied in an earlier scandal - heinous crimes without criminals!
The Anti-Corruption Agency has still to convince the Malaysian people that with the coming into force of the new Anti-Corruption Act 1998, it is now a completely transformed body with full and unfettered powers to declare an all-out war against corruption.
There is one distinct difference between the ACA before and after the enforcement of the Anti-Corruption Act, the ACA officers talk more in public. This is most welcome, because the ACA should be fully involved in helping to spark a national movement committed to the goals of creating a new culture of zero tolerance for corruption.
However, while the ACA should have a higher public profile so that it is more seen and heard by the public, the ACA is finally not a public relations agency but an agency charged with the wiping out of corruption. To do so, it must produce results and show that it has the teeth to investigate and prosecute the corrupt in the country, regardless of position or status.
The ACA should be fully aware that its public standing is not very high as it has failed to establish its reputation or credibility as an agency with the commitment, dedication and powers to combat corruption.
In order to restore such public confidence, the ACA should explain what has happened to its various investigations into high-profile personalities, whether it be the former Selangor Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Muhammad Taib; the RM1.2 billion corporate acquisitions of Ling Hee Leong, the 27-year-old son of MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik as to whether there had been improper use and influence of his fatherís political and Ministerial position or the long-standing Perwaja financial scandal.
Have the ACA closed the files on these investigations, or would they continue to be pursued actively into the next millennium?