Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Police Officer Should Not Helm Anti-Corruption Body, Says Former Judge

Malaysia should emulate the example of several countries which do not appoint a police officer to helm their anti-corruption body, a former High Court judge said today.

Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid said the person appointed to head the anti-corruption body in countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Australia were not from among police officers.

"This is what has happened in Singapore and other places. They avoid (appointing police officers to head the anti-corruption body). I am not in a position to say what the government should do," he told reporters after delivering a public lecture on "Addressing Corruption in Malaysia" at Universiti Malaya, here. Syed Ahmad was commenting on the past practice of the government of appointing a police officer as the director-general of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).

"They (Singapore, South Korea and Australia) learnt from the Hong Kong experience where anti-corruption enforcement was handled by an anti-corruption branch under the jurisdiction of the police," he said.

Syed Ahmad related an event in Hong Kong that led to the creation of the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 1975. Peter Fiztroy Godber, who was a senior officer at Wanchai police station, was caught in a bribery scandal after his retirement in 1973. Before his retirement due date in 1973, Godber had amassed about US$600,000 in his overseas bank accounts. When the police anti-corruption branch investigated his mysterious wealth and ordered him to explain his source of income, Godber arranged for his wife to leave the colony and then used his police airport pass to bypass Immigration and Passport checks and flew off to London.

Syed Ahmad also said that the anti-corruption agency in New South Wales, Australia, does not extend the term of contract of the agency chief after five years of service.

On the ACA in Malaysia, Syed Ahmad said the agency required more trained officers to investigate cases of corruption, adding that the officers should be equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment. He advised ACA officers to always safeguard the identity of informants.

Recalling an incident when he was a Customs officer in Kedah at one time, he said an informant of a smuggling activity was killed after his identity was revealed by the Customs Department by way of an official letter.

In his lecture, Syed Ahmad explained the definition of corruption, the instances of corruption, the causes of corruption and how to check corruption. The lecture, which was open to the public, was organised by the Universiti Malaya International Institute of Public Policy and Management. (Bernama)

***** I fully agree with the learned ex-judge. There is no point in having an agency for the prevention of corruption if the top brass of the agency itself is of doubtful character. Moreover in countries like Singapore, there definitely is political will to eliminate corruption, but here the suspicion is that the aim of government is to have a namesake ACA for the record; convenient window-dressing used for nabbing the small fry while those who are the most corrupt and are closely linked to the ruling party leadership get away scot-free. Things won't change overnight, that's for sure. As long as corruption rules at the top level of the BN pemimpin2, all that we shall continue witnessing is more and more sandiwara.

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Blogger kittykat46 said...

Many ACA officers are either former police or active policemen seconded to the ACA. That was the most direct route for the ACA to recruit officers with investigative experience.
It creates two main difficulties -
a) There is a serious corruption problem within the police force itself, inevitably some of these ex-police or seconded police are tainted by suspicion
b) Ineffective investigation of cases involving police themselves.
How energetic would they be to investigate a colleague or former colleague ?

Much of the ACA's investigative work is information-based and analytical. They need to move away from dependence on the police.

12:56 PM GMT+8  

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