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Corruption = Monopoly + Discretion – Accountability

Corruption = Monopoly + Discretion – Accountability

Corruption is not only cancerous but it is also unethical, immoral, and illegal in many creeds, communities, cultures, civilizations and countries. Corruption hurts economies, people, and governments. It needs to be stopped. Individuals, private organizations, intergovernmental organizations, civil societies and even some governments have attempted to combat, curb, and curtail corruption or at least have tried to prevent it. However, they have failed in one way or the other.  It is the lack of governance, integrity, accountability and transparency among various stakeholders that we didn’t even understand that it wasn’t normal anymore. An American economist, Dr Robert Klitgaard, once shared with me his famous 1988 “corruption formula”, “C = M + D – A”. Dr Klitgaard said: “Corruption equals monopoly plus discretion, minus accountability.” To fight corruption is to reduce monopoly power, reduce discretion and increase accountability in many ways. Reducing monopoly power means enabling competition. Limiting discretion means clarifying the rules of laws and making them known to everyone. Enhancing accountability means to improve the measurement of performance. Meanwhile, Transparency International defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”.

Anyway, it was reported that from January to November 2018, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) arrested 875 individuals; prosecuted 280 and 196 were convicted.  The conviction success rate was merely 70.0%. During this same period of time, it was mentioned that 325 individuals arrested were from Penang state and 115 were civil servants and while the other 206 were from the private sectors. 68 individuals were charged under MACC Act Section 16 (a) for receiving bribes and 7 individuals were charged under Section 16(b) for giving bribes. Section 16 (a) – corruptly solicits or receives or agrees to receive for himself or for any other person; any gratification as an inducement to or a reward for, or otherwise on account of; and Section 16 (b) – corruptly gives, promises or offers to any person whether for the benefit of that person or of another person. Meanwhile, 37 individuals were arrested for the abuse of power; 14 under false claims; 3 under money laundering and 196 under miscellaneous graft offences. Are these just numbers and petty crime? What about grand corruption – the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many? Corruption must be exposed so there is nowhere to hide. And say NO TO IMPUNITY!

However, the Indonesia’s anti-graft commission, Corruption Eradication Commission, or better known as Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK), has almost a 100% conviction success rate since its inception in 2003 and resulted 573 individuals, including 50 mayors/heads of district, 24 ministers/head of ministerial level, 17 province governors, 14 judges/prosecutors, 7 commissioners and 4 ambassadors, being found guilty as charged. MACC should be independent and to have its own prosecutorial powers. In fact, their counterpart in Indonesia has already been given the prosecutorial powers. Without giving the MACC the powers is akin to having a roaring tiger without its teeth in a jungle where corruption and abuse of power has become the rule of life in Malaysia. There is no reason to believe that there would be elements of abuse if the MACC is given the prosecutorial powers. The prosecutorial powers should only be invoked if there is sufficient reason to convince the MACC advisory board that there is pressure or interference in MACC’s work. Should our MACC being given the prosecution power or the authority to revoke any case as such powers are now solely rest on the Attorney-General’s?

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