20081011

Independent anti-corruption body on track for new graft fight

By : Hamidah Atan

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia's new independent corruption-fighting commission is expected to be fully operational early next year.

Amendments were being made to the Anti-Corruption Act, the enabling legislation under which the present ACA was set up.

Once the amendments are enacted, "it is all systems go for the formation of the independent body (the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission)", said ACA deputy director-general, Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed.

He said the ACA was in the final stages of making the transformation to the MCAC.

"Everything is on track," said Abu Kassim who just returned from Hong Kong after studying how the former British colony set up its highly-regarded Independent Commission Against Corruption, which is the model for the MCAC.

Abu Kassim said the transformation of the ACA was part of a four-pronged strategy covering institutions, enforcement, legislation and public procurement, to start a new era of transparency and public accountability.

The commission will have a board of advisers comprising representatives of non-governmental organisations, members of the public, professionals from the private sector and even retirees.

They would assess information received, to determine the next course of action.

An independent Corruption Prevention Advisory Board and a parliamentary committee on the prevention of corruption would be established to oversee the commission.

Abu Kassim expected that his boss, ACA director-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan, would be appointed MCAC chief.

The setting up of the MCAC is one prong of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's reform agenda which he has pledged to complete before stepping down in March.

The reforms include ensuring transparency in judicial appointments and strengthening the anti-corruption initiatives.

Parliament will be asked to approve three bills, to establish a Judicial Appointments Commission, the MCAC and a Special Complaints Commission that will enhance the integrity and effectiveness of enforcement agencies.

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