Malaysia’s anti-graft agency has been on an aggressive mode in their efforts to battle corruption, with several high profile arrests having been made over the past year.
While many have applauded them on the apparent crackdown, many are still of the opinion that the big fish were getting away.
“It is a fallacy to think that a minister exercises more power than a senior civil servant.”
This was the response given by Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) advisory board chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim in commenting on the perception that focus was only being given to the small fry while the big fish gets away with regards to fighting corruption.
Speaking to the New Straits Times, Tunku Abdul Aziz said civil servants were more exposed to corrupt practices as compared to cabinet ministers.
“Where power is concentrated, that is where opportunities for its abuse are,” he was quoted as saying by NST.
Tunku Abdul Aziz explained how ministers could not sign off on contract approvals as that authority was entrusted to those in the civil service at certain positions.
In saying this, Tunku Abdul Aziz lauded the MACC for the focus it was giving on the public sector stating that the commission was focusing on the right target as ‘opportunities for civil servants to engage in corrupt practices are greater’.
However, the social activist stressed that no one was above the law and that included ministers as well as captains of industry.
As for MACC, Tunku Abdul Aziz said the commission must continue to win public trust and confidence.
Only with a strong public support would MACC be able to realise its true potential, he noted, pointing out that the commission must do its best to ensure it was above suspicion.
In a related matter, the former DAP national vice-chairman pointed out that publicising allegations of corruptions against individuals should not be done before the person was charged in court.
“The reason for this is to avoid damaging that person’s reputation whose guilt has yet to be determined by the court,” he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Tunku Abdul Aziz admitted that the law itself was not enough to act as a deterrent against corruption due to the fact that laws were not capable of changing human behaviour or propensity for abuse of power.
“We need to establish workable, practical systems of checks and balance that have built into them strong ethical elements of professional and personal values,” he added.