Saturday, February 28, 2009

MACC: Old Wine In A New Bottle

MACC: Old Wine In A New Bottle

We can have the best legal framework, systems and procedures, but if we put crooks in charge, nothing will change. A “bunga taik ayam” by any other name will not smell like a rose.


What a waste of public funds! The creation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission will go down in history as a feeble and pathetic final clutch at the straws by a sitting duck prime minister best remembered for his inexhaustible supply of good intentions but with nothing to show for them. The MACC was hastily conceived against a murky background of a web of duplicity and deceit. It was a desperate attempt at deluding the people of this country and the world anti-corruption community at large that the Abdullah Badawi administration still had a lot of fire in its belly to make corruption a high risk and low return business. The whole process was nothing more that a charade, a sleight of hand that we had come to expect of this government. In the meantime, corruption continues to be in robust good health.

In 1995 my friends and I started to look at corruption in our country seriously and to view with growing unease its debilitating effects on our society. This led incidentally to the formation of Transparency International Malaysia as it has come to be known. We saw the Anti-Corruption Agency for what it really was in operational terms. It was the weakest link in both the “supply and demand sides” of the corruption equation. We saw the ACA as part of the problem of corruption and not, as it should rightly have been, part of the solution. We thought its claim to “independence” was a joke in poor taste. It was as independent as a beached whale.
"They have missed the point deliberately and with a cynicism of Machiavellian proportions. It is frighteningly sinister."

We demanded from day one that the ACA be converted into an independent commission along the lines of the highly professional Independent Commission Against Corruption with a strong and influential oversight civilian committee to keep an eye on the staff who could otherwise be tempted to abuse their wide powers.

After years of insisting that the ACA was independent despite glaring examples to the contrary, the government finally relented just as the Abdullah Badawi administration went into its death throes. Abdullah Badawi woke up all of a sudden to try to put in place the flawed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. He is, he has just told us, happy with the judiciary and the MACC. But then our prime minister is an easy man to please. You will note that for all the rhetoric about an independent commission, the key operating word itself does not appear in the name and title of the new body. I suppose it matters not what name you give it, the creation of the MACC is nothing if not a clumsy attempt at decanting old wine into a new bottle.

As for the much hyped up “Hong Kong model” upon which the new corruption fighting machine is apparently based, the less said about this the better. It is clear for all to see that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission falls far short of the Hong Kong template on at least two counts. The first and most obvious shortcoming is an absence in the current law a provision enabling a MACC officer to call anyone to account for their wealth and lifestyle that stick out like a sore thumb against his known income.

It is not a crime for public servants to be wealthy, but would they please explain how they have acquired their wealth to the satisfaction of the authorities, assuming naturally that the authorities themselves are incorruptible? The absence of this specific provision in the law renders the fight against corruption an exercise in futility. The legions of the corrupt in Malaysian public life know that they cannot be touched. The framers of the law knew what they were doing when they decided to omit this powerful provision both in the 1997 Act as well as the current law. They claim that there is no need for it as there is already in the statute book a provision against money laundering. They have missed the point deliberately and with a cynicism of Machiavellian proportions. It is frighteningly sinister.

The second and equally serious shortcoming is the quality of the commissioners. You cannot by any stretch of the imagination compare them with their highly professional Hong Kong counterparts. I have kept abreast of the excellent work of the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption from the time when the iconic Bertrand de Speville was its commissioner. The Hong Kong model works because of the quality of the officers employed. They are all of them drawn from the professions, and are well trained to behave and act professionally. Above all, the ICAC is truly independent, set out to be just that from day one.

Now that the MACC has been officially launched, let us hope it will shed its reputation for bias and sloppy approach to its mission, and above all, its officers must resist the great temptation of seeking premature publicity such as the “million flying licenses” of some years ago. Let your professionalism be its own reward, and Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan, the head of the organisation should learn to keep his counsel and not repeat that most uncalled for and disgraceful act of finding Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim guilty while his “car and cow” case was still a work in progress.

I wrote this piece before the official launch of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday, and I am glad that I delayed submitting it to the editors so that I can now have the pleasure of congratulating Datuk Anwar Fazal, a partner in the setting up of Transparency International Malaysia, Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin, and Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon, all strong anti-corruption advocates and my co-workers, on their appointment to the advisory board. They have their work cut out for them, and I wish them well.

As for the MACC, remember this; we can have the best legal framework, systems and procedures, but if we put crooks in charge, nothing will change. A “bunga taik ayam” by any other name will not smell like a rose.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Budaya Samseng! Umno Youth threatens to Burn Down Chinese Hall


The then Deputy Head of UMNO Youth巫青Abdul Aziz led about 200 members to protest. Abdul Aziz roughly pointed his index finger at Secretary of 雪华堂 lawyer 谢春荣, and threatened to burn down the KL & Selangor Chinese Hall.

Monday, February 23, 2009

MACC Not Impartial!

How can MACC (Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission) be impartial? Such a 'Commission' is supposed to be answeriable only to Parliament, but this one is only answerable to UMNO. And to hear the Commission they select someone who can be blackmailed into obeying the orders of one party!

Child Porn Scandal: Has MACC’s Ahmad Said’s impartiality been compromised to protect his son?
- by Nathaniel Tan

MACC Chairman, Ahmad Said - the man who is wrongfully and prejudicially intent on declaring Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim guilty before proper prosecution takes place - has a son named Ahmad Shauqi.

It turns out, Ahmad Shauqi is a pilot who was recently found guilty in Australia for bringing child porn into the country (I suspect that the website referred to him as ‘Ahmad Said’ because they thought that that was his surname).

The Malaysian police are supposed to conduct their own investigation and prosecution into this case. Apparently, this police investigation and prosecution never took place.

It’s this last bit that raises serious questions that take this out of the personal/family sphere, and into the public sphere.

As a public official, Ahmad Said must be free of any aspersions that suggest an inability to carry out his duties freely, fairly and independently.

Should Ahmad Said have a son who seems to have “escaped” criminal proceedings here in Malaysia, I think we cannot say that Ahmad Said is in a position to enjoy full public confidence.
After all, it then becomes reasonable for us to question: Has Ahmad Said been coerced into pursuing only selective MACC prosecutions against certain parties in return for having his son granted immunity from criminal prosecutions?

I wish to emphatically state once again that I have little interest in sullying Ahmad Shauqi’s name, in his alleged crime, and especially in connecting whatever his misdeeds may or may not be to his father. I am not interested in Ahmad Said’s parenting abilities, or the moral integrity of the rest of his family.

I am however, forced to take an interest in the ability of Ahmad Said to fulfill his duties as a public official impartially. Should he fail in this task, then it falls to us as the public to investigate all the possible reasons why. Unanswered questions will only cast further aspersions into the integrity of the already sullied MACC.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Am Mighty UMNO, Invincible and Immortal! (The UMNO Mind)

My name is UMNO. And this is my message to all you People of Malaysia who think I can be defeated by you.
- Mr. Smith

Remember everyone shudders at the mere mention of my name - the Police, MACC, the Election Commission, the AG chambers, the Judiciary, the newspaper editors and even the Rulers.

I order them and they obey me. Now, how is that you people of Malaysia are so stubborn and refuse to respect me and allow me to rule this country as I please.

You think I am bothered by all your police reports against me? You think the police will investigate me? You think all your reports on my corrupt practices bother me? You think the MACC will have the guts to investigate me?

You think you can bring me to court? Which court will rule against me? You stupid people! I am the Law. I am above the Constitution. Don't you forget that.

Oh! the Rulers? When I feel like it I criticize them. When I am in need of them I cry 'Daulat Tuanku' night and day. You see, I can do different things in different situations and my stupid children,the Mat Rempits, will come out in full force with yellow ribbons tight around their heads and shout 'Daulat Tuanku'. All they need is a few ringgit and they will echo whatever I say.

These school dropouts are my obedient children. It's only you educated, internet savvy people who give me trouble.

You see, stupid People of Malaysia, when I want the Malays to unite behind me, my children will wave the Jagur Gemilang and scream 'Hidup Malaysia'. If I am threatened by you further I will get them to wave the UMNO flag, wield the keris and cry 'Hidup Melayu' and call you 'Derhaka, Derhaka'.

So you see, I can use the yellow ribbon, the Jalur Gemilang, the UMNO flag and the keris to frighten my children into believing that they will have no future in this country if I am defeated.

Oh, you want to defeat me through elections? Ha! I have postal votes, phantom voters, and damn it, even if I lose I have the money to buy the victors. I can frighten them will bullets, nude pictures, sodomy/khalwat allegations and even kidnap them and their families if they refuse my offers.

If they are still stubborn I will make them disappear or take them in under the ISA. With the police at my beck and call, how can you ever win me, you stupid people.



Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Abolish Poverty or Monarchy
- The Might of the Pen

Throughout history monarchies have been abolished either through legislative reforms, coups d’etat, or wars.

One example is the overthrow in 1649 of the English monarchy by the Parliament of England, led by Oliver Cromwell. The monarchy was restored in 1660. Another is the abolition of the French monarchy in 1792, during the French Revolution. The French monarchy was later restored several times until 1871. The ancient monarchy of China ceased to exist in 1912 after the revolution of Sun Yat-Sen. The last emperor of Korea lost his throne in 1910 when the country was annexed by Japan. After the death of the last khagan in 1924 Mongolia became a republic.

In 1893 foreign business leaders overthrew the Queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii. They established a republic, which joined the United States in 1898. The monarchy of Portugal was overthrown in 1910, two years after the assassination of King Carlos I.

World War I led to perhaps the greatest spate of abolition of monarchies in history. The conditions inside Russia and the poor performance in the war gave rise to a communist revolution which toppled the entire institution of the monarchy, executed the Tsar and implemented a proletarian dictatorship. The defeated empires of Germany, Austria and Turkey saw the abolition of their monarchies in the close aftermath of the war. During the war, monarchies were planned for the Grand Duchy of Finland (to have a Finnish King), and for Lithuania (Mindaugas II of Lithuania), with a protectorate-like dependency of Germany. Both intended kings renounced their thrones after Germany’s defeat in November 1918.

In 1939 Italy invaded Albania and removed the existing King Zog and instated the Italian King as its new monarch. Italy, along with the other eastern European monarchies of Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania joined with Germany in World War II against the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the western allies and the Soviet Union. As the axis powers came to a defeat in the war, communist partisans in occupied Yugoslavia and occupied Albania seized power and ended the monarchies. Communists in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania removed their monarchies with strong backing by the Soviet Union, which had many troops and supporters placed there during the course of the war. The King of Italy had switched sides during the war in favour of the western allies, but a referendum in 1946 saw the monarchy ended there as well. A unique feature of the war was the Japanese Emperor who had held a debated but important role in Japan’s warfare against the allied powers, being reduced in stature from a divine monarch to a figurehead one by the occupying United States, instead of being abolished altogether.

In Greece the king was forced into exile after a coup d’état in 1967 and the republic was proclaimed in 1973 (confirmed by referendum in 1974).
The monarchies of India, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe were abolished when, or shortly after, they became independent of the United Kingdom, while remaining within the Commonwealth in the middle of the 20th century or later. That of Ireland was not abolished when Ireland became independent of the United Kingdom in the 1920s, but was abolished by the Republic of Ireland Act of 1948, which came into force in 1949. Pakistan became a republic in 1956. The monarchy in South Africa was abolished in 1961 by referendum. The latest country to become a Commonwealth republic was Mauritius in 1992.

That of Egypt and Sudan was abolished in 1953, after the revolution of 1952; that of Tunisia in 1957, that of Iraq in 1958, that of Libya in 1969, that of Iran was abolished by the Islamic revolution of 1979. In Ethiopia the emperor lost his throne in 1975 due to a communist takeover. Communist revolutions put to end the monarchies of Indochina after World War II: Vietnam in 1955, Laos in 1975 and Cambodia in 1970. Later the monarchy was restored in Cambodia under Norodom Sihanouk in 1993.

Brazil rejected an attempt to restore its monarchy in the 1990s, while efforts to restore the monarchies of some of the Balkan states in the former Eastern Bloc continue. In Bulgaria, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who was deposed from the Bulgarian throne in 1946, was elected and recently served as the Prime Minister of his country from 2001 to 2005. In a 1999 referendum, the voters of Australia rejected a proposal to abolish their monarchy in favour of a specific republic model. The proposal was rejected in all states, with only the Australian Capital Territory voting in favour.

On December 24, 2007, the Nepalese government decided in an accord to abolish the monarchy after the elections to be held in April, 2008. The Nepalese monarchy was formally abolished on 28 May, 2008.


PETRONAS, Corrupted or Misunderstood?

According to TCE, June issue, 2008 published by the Institute of Chemical Engineers (ICHEME), the anti-corruption group Transparency International reported that most oil and gas companies lack transparency in financial reporting.

Surprise, surprise, Petronas is in it too!

1) At the top, receiving praise for systematically disclosing payments: BG Group, BHP Billiton, Petro-China, Shell.

2) In the middle: BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Total.

3) Worst performers for financial transparency: ExxonMobil, Lukoil and PETRONAS.

So if some silly Neanderthals start barking out remarks like PETRONAS is great and it has done its fair share of ethical and respectable financial reporting, it is all BULL SHIT.

Was This The Future of UMNO?

Feb 18, 2009 Leslie Lau

At best last night's televised debate between the three Umno Youth chief candidates confirmed what an increasing number of Malaysians think of Umno — that its leaders are out of touch, arrogant, hypocritical.

Worst still, it showed the appeal to the Umno ground of particularly racist views.

At one stage Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo appeared to be even suggesting that it was blasphemous for the government to consider non-Malays on the same standing as Malays.

Malays, he argued, had a special position under the federal constitution. Likewise Islam and as such it could not be placed on the same standing as non-Islamic religions.

Even when the moderator pointed out to Dr Khir that he was one of the leaders in Umno and Barisan Nasional that lost an entire state to the Pakatan Rakyat, he argued that it was because his party was not Islamic enough and did not champion the Malays enough.

Never once did Dr Khir acknowledge the public perception of corruption and arrogance in his government when he was Selangor menteri besar.

To their credit, the other two candidates — Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir — appeared a little uncomfortable with some of Dr Khir's remarks.


If the audience reactions were anything to go by Dr Khir probably won the debate.

If the audience reactions are a reflection of the views of Umno members, Dr Khir will probably become the next Umno Youth chief.

And if that happens, it will probably see a more nationalist Umno emerging, and one which is opposed to reforms and changes, and one which will lead a more hardline government.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why as a Doctor I Want This Government to Go Away!

Letter by Dr. CSK at Lim Kit Siang blog.

For now, I have decided to take more time off from my medical practice and spend sometime now instead to focus on helping remove this government. As a doctor in private practice, I just want this government with all its Little Napoleons and conniving, corrupted, incompetent, Ketuanan Melayu civil servants gone.

I am a local graduate and have been in practice for 31 years. I am basically a physician by training and received my qualifications from the Royal Colleges in 1985. I see mainly kidney ailments and their predisposing illnesses which usually are high blood pressure, diabetes and heart ailments.

I was in government service for twenty years and the remainder now in private practice. I run a clinic in Penang and have visitation rights to private hospitals.

When I was in government service, yes, there was much bureaucracy. But nothing of the sort we see today. There was a greater deal of camaraderie. And although there were differences with private hospitals or clinics, generally everyone learned to work together.

When I first opened my clinic, it was fairly a straightforward affair. Apart from my APC (Annual Practicing Certificate), it was just ensuring the clinic was adequately equipped to treat the type of patients which I knew I would be treating, and making certain I had the type of medication I wanted to prescribe to my patients generally.

My first brush with the law, if you can call it that, came when a group of government medical assistants and health inspectors walked into my clinic without notice and brusquely gave me a warning regarding a new rule regarding toxic waste and how we should dispose them in yellow containers recommended by the ministry. I complied.

About two years later, there were problems regarding my X-ray machine, when third parties who appeared not so knowledgeable but apparently approved by the Ministry of Health, started walking in and out of my clinic for purposes of calibration and licence renewals. I could not quite understand why the supplier or manufacturer himself was not allowed to service or calibrate these machines. The cost ran into thousands of ringgit which I had to pay.

To add insult to injury, I was forced to attend Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs run by what looked like staff who didn’t know much about the programs they were conducting despite myself having a qualified radiographer to do the X-Rays. The cost of the CME programs again had to be borne by me.

And then came the PHFSA (Private Health Care, Facilities and Services Act). No one understood the need for this Act. In this respect I must praise ex-Health Minister, Chua Jui Meng, for putting this nonsensical Act into cold storage. However Chua Soi Lek and a couple of not so clever ministry staff, typically without the approval of the very people it was going to affect in the private sector, got together and convinced the government to pass this Act in parliament.

They say that an idiot is a stupid person with a mental age below three years, while a moron is a stupid person with a mental age of between seven to twelve years. I am uncertain which category the Ministry staff who conjured these laws belonged to. Even the opposition didn’t or could not make much noise.

Doctors were forced to register clinics, made to pay hefty registration fees, comply by doing expensive renovations and buy unnecessary equipment unrelated to the type of practice they had. And despite this, the authorities can still choose to provide or not provide a license as and when they please. Many unnecessary trips had to be made to the Ministry which these days seemed to be staffed by Indonesian and Manipal graduates or by doctors who have not worked a single day as an independent doctor in a clinic of their own.

Politics was certainly not standing at the door of my clinic anymore. It had come right in and engulfed my practice with a red tape which I could not keep up with any certainty.

Despite all the noise regarding a Dr. Basmullah who apparently was jailed pertaining to this Act, the Pakatan Rakyat has not made any clear statements if they would repeal this law and the many other restrictions placed on medical practices by qualified, fully registered Malaysian doctors if they came to power.

It is uncertain if Malaysian doctors would be squeezed out first by our own government or by AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Area) when full implementation with regard to the liberalization of medical services takes place soon.

As for now, at least, I think I have heard and seen enough. Despite the scandalous mortality and morbidity the country faces due to the largely ignored dengue scourge and possibly many other illnesses, and despite knowing from past and current experiences regarding the tacky standards in government hospitals, they appear to be above the law without accountability nor transparency.

For now, I have decided to take more time off from my medical practice and spend sometime now instead to focus on helping remove this government. As a doctor in private practice, I just want this government with all its Little Napoleons and conniving, corrupted, incompetent, Ketuanan Melayu civil servants gone.

I believe now that this government is incorrigible and beyond redemption. The time to work as friends within the system has long since passed. If we are to save this once beautiful and free country, it is apparent at least to me now that this government must first be removed.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Scant Regard for the Law

FEB 4 — Our first three Prime Ministers were lawyers. It also during their tenures that Malaysia, despite being economically supine, was nonetheless blessed with unfettered media reports (this can be confirmed by visiting any of the archives of our main newspapers) and we almost never heard of transgressions by the organs of state.

However, our fourth Prime Minister viewed the law and disciples of the laws with great suspicion. He proceeded to dismantle and encumber the very freedoms we cherished for so long, resulting in 22 years of disregard for the rule of law, due process, basic rights and a total absence of accountability.

The fifth Prime Minister promised us something different. He tried so very hard and spectacularly failed, resulting in the BN being drubbed during the 12th General Election. In order to pacify the anger of Malaysians who could no longer stomach the excesses of powers and abuse, meek and torpid legislation was recently bulldozed though our Parliament.

Again, some quarters including Umno Youth concluded that the legislation was too "far-reaching" and our Anti-Corruption Commission has no business investigating the ills of Umno or other non-governmental bodies.

Umno, being the single largest party in government and with its members holding almost every important position of state, must not escape the tentacles of accountability. Despite the weakness of the MACC, it is the best Malaysia has at the moment. It is a commission established by Parliament and it would be most unwise of Umno Youth or any other body to question its authority.

However, Malaysians have always been forced to only pay scant regard to the rule of law. We continue to stomach the abuses for the sake of peace and tranquillity.

The police can abuse detainees without any regard for their rights. Kugan's case is simply one of the many cases involving the high-handedness of those in a position of authority. In the absence of a complaints body, we have the police investigating their own alleged misdeeds. I am wondering why we didn't ask the Nazis to investigate the Holocaust. It is only in Malaysia where a conflict of interest never arises and even if it does, it never makes a worthy difference or any at all.

We have the Election Commission playing judge with regards to the recent controversy surrounding two elected representatives in Perak. I echo what Malik Imtiaz has said regarding the powers of the Election Commission. As a barrister, I can add my "two-cents" worth to the mix; and I do not see the EC having any adjudicative function. A literal reading of Article 113 of the Federal Constitution clearly states that the EC has a duty to delineate in line with demographic changes and it has a duty to conduct elections. It does not confer the EC with quasi-judicial powers nor does it give the EC the right determine the legitimacy of resignations.
The right course for the two aggrieved assemblymen is to take the matter to court and seek an injunction or a "certiorari" prohibiting their withdrawal until the validity of their resignations is determined by the courts.

The EC once again has proven itself as incapable of being fair and non-partisan and this will only further besmirch the reputation of Barisan Nasional.

Like most Malaysians, I am appalled by the scant regard for the law and our failure to do what is right. The spirit and the letter of the law may sometimes conflict; however we must not forget that the law in all certainty is the only check against arbitrary and absolute power.

It is my fervent belief that the BN and Umno in particular can no longer allow the abuse of rule of law in Malaysia. I am reminded by what Tony Blair said at the Sultan Azlan Shah Law Lecture last year, while furious with a decision of the House of Lords (Britain's equivalent to the Federal Court of Malaysia) on the legality of an Act of Parliament that was meant to deal with the post 9/11 terrorist threat, he soberly remarked: "It is their right they can; that they are above me and not me above them."

So as we scream and shout about the alleged atrocities in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, we have taken a not-so-elegant silence about the transgressions of our own government. Our credibility is surely weakened but only Malaysia does not see it.

Ivanpal S. Grewal is an analyst with SEDAR Institute. The views expressed are a personal observation on the state of affairs in Malaysia.