Justice For All Malaysia

Gov’t u-turn on Whistleblower Protection Act

Posted on: May 8, 2008

Malaysiakini.com
Rahmah Ghazali | May 8, 08 12:44pm
The government has rejected the enactment of both the Whistleblower Protection Act and Freedom of Information Act although it vows to continue to fight against corruption, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

“We have no plan to enact any of these acts because although we have the Official Secrets Act, the cabinet can decide on anything that need to be declassified at anytime,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz said today.

He was replying to Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (PAS-Kota Raja) during the question session this morning.

The minister said the government will continue to fight against graft, which has been included in the BN’s last two election manifestos but “it was impossible to be done in a short time for such a big thing like fighting against corruption”.

This is an apparent about-turn by the government, which had earlier claimed that it was drafting a bill to protect whistleblowers.

Nazri had himself said last November that the first draft of the bill – which he called the Witness Protection Act – has been circulated to government agencies and ministries for feedback.

“Then it will be brought to Parliament for the first reading and debated before it is passed and gazetted as an Act,” Nazri was quoted saying by Bernama.

Last month, in the wake of the ruling BN coalition’s unprecendented polls setback, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had promised to pass new laws to protect whistleblowers and witnesses.

PM: ACA to be fully independent
Apr 21, 08 10:32am
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today continued with his bold reform agenda by announcing that the Anti-Corruption Agency will be made a fully independent body.

He also announced other reforms today to boost the fight against corruption, including passing new laws to protect whistleblowers and witnesses.

In addition, the number of ACA officers would be tripled in the next five years to enhance the agency capacity to fight corruption.

pak lah abdullah badawi aca bpr 190408The premier, at the launch of the first Asean Integrity Dialogue 2008, said that the agency would be made a full-fledged commission by yearend, adding that it would be answerable to Parliament.

He added that the commission would have to table an annual report and be answerable to a parliamentary committee on the prevention of corruption.

“My government will restructure the anti-corruption agency… to become a full-fledged Malaysian Commission on Anti-Corruption,” Abdullah said.

“To enhance its effectiveness, transparency and public accountability the new commission structure will be set up to include a system of effective checks and balances,” he added.

“It is my fervent hope that by restructuring the (agency), its effectiveness, transparency and accountability will be considerably raised while public trust in its integrity and independence will be quickly renewed.”

The government will also take immediate steps to improve the public procurement process through measures targeted at addressing specific problems in the system, he added.

The moves came days after Abdullah announced setting up an independent panel to help appoint judges in senior positions. At present, they are appointed solely by the prime minister.

The judicial institution and the ACA have come under severe pressure in recent years over the government’s interference in both bodies.

The civil society has time and again pressed for an truly independent ACA.

Not populist moves

Abdullah also said that his recently announced reforms were not his ploy of winning back the support of the people after BN’s poor showing in the recent general election.

He said that his detractors would continue to say “something” no matter when he introduced the reforms.

He added that if he had announced the reforms before the elections, he would have been accused of doing these to win votes, and if he did not do it after, they would say that he had forgotten his promises.

“But I do not forget my promises. I attend to them when the time comes,” he told reporters after delivering his keynote address at the function.

Abdullah also stressed that these reforms were all part of his 2004 election manifesto, but he was unable to fulfill them in the past four years as there were other urgent matters to handle then.

“The manifesto for 2004 is not just for four to five years in the first term.

“It is intended to take us on the long haul and the Vision 2020 objective is really what we want to achieve. It doesn’t matter who will be the prime minister at that time,” he said.

“We just can’t make reforms for the sake of reforms. There must be a certain objective for reforms. If it is not effective, then the reform doesn’t mean anything,” he added.

Abdullah won a landslide victory in 2004 on an anti-corruption ticket, but opposition leaders and observers say progress has been slow, with few meaningful reforms.

Unprecedented losses in March polls saw Abdullah come under pressure to quit but the embattled premier says he has a mandate and has pledged to implement all his past promises in his second term in office.

The government has been hit by numerous scandals in recent years with a minister, judges and several politicians facing corruption charges.

Former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim unleashed a furore last year by releasing a video clip apparently showing a lawyer telling a judge over the phone that he would put him forward for a top job.

A royal commission set up to investigate the tape has yet to submit its findings.

ACA sends reform proposal

A happy ACA director-general Ahmad Said Hamdan today welcomed Abdullah’s decision to restructure the agency.

“It’s very good. It is what you want and what people want,” he told reporters.

He said that though the commission would remain a part of the civil service and had to report to the government, it would have more freedom and power.

“You have to report to the government. Just to report. What you want is for us to be free during investigation, no interference; that’s what we are going to do,” he said.

Last week, Ahmad and his deputy Abu Kassim Mohamad had submitted a proposal for the agency to be completely independent and not just an arm of the government.

The body, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Department, will now report directly to a new parliamentary committee – called the Anti-Corruption Committee – which will comprise representatives from both the government and opposition.

Abdullah said the committee would further enhance transparency and public accountability as it could seek clarification on the new body’s annual reports.

The prime minister added that a new whistleblower’s act would also be introduced to give better protection to those who come forward to testify against corrupt practices.

According to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz, the agency had proposed for ACA to operate in ways similar to the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

The ICAC is one of the most esteemed anti-corruption watchdog in the region and is often touted by civil society groups and opposition parties as a suitable model for ACA, which currently reports to Abdullah’s office.

Today’s announcement came two days after Abdullah appeared non-committal on ACA reforms when asked by reporters to respond to the agency’s proposal.

“I have received the proposal and I would decide on it as soon as possible,” the prime minister told a press conference after officiating the Barisan Nasional MPs retreat.

Make sure it can bite

dap dompok and sexist remarks pc 170507 kit siangIn an immediate reaction, DAP leader Lim Kit Siang welcomed Abdullah’s belated reform measures but added that more details were needed before an informed judgment can be made of these measures.

He also said that he hoped the new anti-corruption commission does not become as toothless as Suhakam – being independent but completely unable to do anything without the necessary powers and wherewithal to carry out its mandate.

Lim added that Abdullah should keep up with his reform agenda by establishing the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) by tabling such a bill in the first meeting of Parliament next week.

He also wants the premier to free the Malaysian mass media from the shackles of the Printing Presses and Publications Act.

At last, a law to protect whistleblowers
Nov 5, 07 6:37am
The government has begun drawing up legislation to protect whistleblowers, shortly after former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim was threatened with jail after releasing a video purportedly showing judicial corruption.

Anwar caused a furore when he made the video clip public in September, and ran into trouble with anti-graft authorities when he refused to reveal the source, arguing their safety had not been guaranteed by the government.

Nazri Aziz, minister in the prime minister’s department, said the first draft of the Witness Protection Act – initially proposed in 2000 – has been circulated to government agencies and ministries for feedback.

He said the draft will then be presented to cabinet for approval, the official Bernama news agency reported late Sunday.

“Then it will be brought to Parliament for the first reading and debated before it is passed and gazetted as an Act,” Nazri, the de facto law minister, was quoted saying by Bernama.

Nazri has last month conceded an error in claiming the existence of a ‘Witness Protection Bill’, but has blamed his press secretary for failing to issue a clarification to the media.

In the edited eight-minute clip released by Anwar, a well-connected lawyer apparently tells a top judge over the telephone that he would push his name forward for a senior appointment.

No action from ACA yet

Last month, Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) officials ordered Anwar to surrender the full and original recording, which identifies the whistleblower, or face arrest and a jail sentence of up to two years.

Anwar said ACA officials had backed down from a deadline to supply the footage. The ACA reportedly said the demand still stood, but it has not taken any further action.

Anwar, who was once heir to former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, said the ACA’s order was politically motivated and accused the government of trying to intimidate him.

The former deputy was sacked in 1998 and charged with sodomy and corruption charges that landed him in jail for six years.

The sodomy conviction was overturned but the corruption verdict stands, barring him from standing for public office until April 2008.

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Must Attend Program

Please go to this link: https://justice4allkuantan.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/invitation-public-forum-the-isa-and-the-police-reform-process-whats-next-after-pak-lah/
To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of people - Emily Cox

Siphoning EPF money

On 'Why should Valuecap borrow from EPF?' Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud: MTUC condemns the government's move to bail out Valuecap to support the local stock market using RM5 billion from EPF, as the provident fund is the custodian of the workers' money and not some sort of ‘automated teller machine' for the government.
If at all the EPF were to lend its money to the government, it has to be under the condition that there be transparency and accountability in the activities for which the money has been purposed. We want to know who is doing what with the money that belongs to the workers. This is the hard-earned money of the workers, their retirement plan. How is this bailout plan going to benefit the workers? We also question the reason for this bailout. If the economic fundamentals in Malaysia are strong and reserves sufficient as has been stated several times by the government, then why is there a need to offer so much money to the GLCs? Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop should prove how the EPF would profit from this loan. Bernama had reported that Nor had given the assurance that the loan given out by EPF would reap profits for the fund judging from Valuecap's past performance. But where is the paperwork and calculations to show that this move will benefit the EPF? MTUC is concerned that the loan might be mismanaged or misused and this, in turn, would affect the returns for the contributors. Mere assurances are not enough. We want to proof that this RM5 billion will not go down the drain. (The writer is president, MTUC). Sharyn: The government wants to use our pension money to prop up the Malaysian stock market which is the playing field of the rich people. If so, the government must ensure that the EPF account holders - who are predominantly the poor to average citizens of Malaysia - be guaranteed all of our pension money with a compound 8% growth (interest). It's so selfish and sick of the government to use the poor's pension money to help the rich to make more money with all the risks taken by the poor/average citizen. We can better use the RM% billion loans to Valuecap for our children's education, shelter, medical bills etc. Why not get those rich people to prop up the share market instead? Why should they park their money overseas and gamble with our EPF money instead? Kumar14: Who is behind this Valuecap organisation? Why suddenly, this separate entity is allowed to access funds from the EPF? Are they capable enough to handle it or is it just another desperate and blind move? It has been a very infamous trend where the people's funds are channeled to a company for investment purposes and suddenly POP! the funds disappear and there is nobody to be held responsible but a RM2 shell company. Charge who? Sue whom? The RM2 company (just a registered name)? We have seen this many times. People in power and with connections allow such things to go through and reap/rob the people's wealth and then blame it on organisations which actually don't exist. What if a lot of EPF funds are looted via such scams and nobody is to be pointed at? Where will the government get the funds to replenish the EPF? The people are very bored, disappointed, angry and frustrated at seeing all these dumb and unaccounted for measures being allowed by the government with lame excuses. Please, somebody verify the true purpose, integrity and capability of anybody attempting to use the people's fund.

Raja Petra

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ANWAR IBRAHIM

A prosperous future is indivisible from a firm commitment to the principles of distributive justice, the rule of law and a profound respect for human rights.

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