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Monday, October 17, 2011

MACC's outrageous spending: RM90k for Vanezis, RM150k for Shafee

Sulaiman Kamal | 2:30 AM | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Malaysia has had several high profile corruption cases in recent months brought to the public's eye. Ironically, in cases like the Scorpenes scandal and the Ananda Krishnan India investigations, these corruption cases are being investigated by foreign agencies. It is embarrassing to think that the Malaysian counterpart to these foreign corruption-busting agencies is slow and inattentive to act on its own homeground.
Although outfitted with a new mandate in 2008, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has little fruit to show although its annual allocation from the national budget has been steadily increased over the years. With an increasing budget, why is it that the MACC has such poor showing when it comes to solving corruption cases and bringing the perpetrators to justice?

Outrageous spending
The Teoh Beng Hock case highlights the rather illogical use of public funds to help protect and justify the role of MACC in investigating corruption cases. Since 2008, MACC has had two deaths within its compound and involving individuals under its watch. Teoh Beng Hock was one such person who met his death after a bout of questionable interrogation in the MACC offices. The other was senior Customs director Ahmad Sarbaini.
The subsequent Royal Commission of Inquiry into Beng Hock’s death saw the MACC defending itself and washing its hands off the case, refusing to take an ounce of responsibility for its misconduct.
Compare this against Thai forensic expert Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand. She came to Malaysia 4 times to testify in the coroner’s court and the RCI. She also participated in the 2nd autopsy on Teoh Beng Hock's remains. For all her efforts, she did not charge a single cent for her professional services because she is driven by her conscience.
Both Karpal Singh and Gobind Singh have been fighting on behalf of the Teoh family in court since 2009, from the coroner’s court to the current ongoing appeal and judicial review – a period of three long, painstaking years. The father-and-son team is also fighting for justice for the Teoh family on a completely pro-bono basis.
Contrast this with the amount of money the MACC used on bringing in experts like the famous forensic expert from England, Peter Vanezis, and Muhamad Shafee Abdullah, a prominent Umno lawyer, to represent the agency.
According to a written reply from the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz to Teo Nie Ching, MP for Serdang, the total expenditure incurred by MACC for Peter Vanezis, including air fare, accommodation, food and beverage, transportation and professional fees, amounted to RM90,680; whereas the professional fees paid to Muhamad Shafee Abdullah was RM150,000. Is this not outrageous?
Biggest joke is that it is the worst performer in the region
For 2012, MACC’s federal allocation has been increased to RM211 million, so spending the above amount of money on experts may not be a big deal. Yet, why did the MACC spend so much when the Dr Pornthip came four times for free and Karpal Singh could work pro-bono?
The best joke of all is that despite having such huge resources to fund its way, MACC’s success rate pales in comparison with its various counterparts in other ASEAN countries. MACC's conviction rate is 73%, compared to Indonesia's 100%, Singapore's 85% and Hong Kong's 95%. It is clear that with such high expenses, MACC returns a pretty poor yield on investment by the government and people of Malaysia.
Despite getting increased allocations to fund costly experts flying in to represent them and installing the latest equipment at their offices, MACC has little to show in terms of increased efficiency and results. It looks like MACC is all talk, a big spender but poor performer unable to justify the amounts allocated to it.
Pumping more money into a venture with little return makes poor business sense. And this can be said about the MACC. The Malaysian public should demand that the agency be made accountable to the nation for abusing public funds. It would be the biggest irony if the very agency set up to rid Malaysia of corruption is itself corrupted by the overly generous budget set aside for it.

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