MACC commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim had on August 24 said the MACC is an 'injured tiger' that needs strong public support to fight corruption.
“We are an injured tiger. Give us your support for it is only with a strong public support that even a corrupt politician will be afraid of," he said.
MACC wants to become a power to be reckoned with, a corruption-fighting enforcement agency with the ability to pick up any suspect for questioning, without bias and favoritism. And in producing those accused to court, MACC prosecuting team will ensure the stiffest penalty awaits them.
Its scary, right? Even if you are not involved in corruption, you will avoid any engagement with MACC, not even as a witness.
Why, if your statement helps the MACC send someone to jail, they will come back for you if they discovered irregularities in your recorded lines. So, better don't offer yourself as a witness because you may also end up in jail!
And how trustworthiness the MACC is? How do you rubbish perceptions that MACC is so power-crazy? Let me give you two 'real' instances:
Case 1 - I wrote about a 'corrupt' aide to a minister in 2011. A day after blogging about it, the MACC called me to give statements. I did, for 3 hours at the MACC headquarter in Putrajaya. Three officers 'cornered' me but they were nice, knowing I was not the subject of corruption. An MACC superintendent told me a few days later that his prosecution team had strong evidence to drag the culprit to court. Unfortunately, the Supp was transferred to Sabah three months later. When I called him, he said 'better forget about it... I am not in charge anymore'. Fine, who was in charge then? I went twice to the HQ and nobody was able to answer me. Case closed? Why?
Case 2 - MACC Shah Alam summoned a guy for questioning yesterday morning, almost two years after his statement 'helped' MACC sent his younger brother (an immigration officer) to jail for graft. Once in the investigation room, he was grilled, intimidated and threatened. During the 4-hour interrogation, he was told that his statements two years ago was 'chucked off' by the magistrate over some doubts (but they still sent his brother to jail, and he may probably stay in jail for 25 years!). He was asked to present himself again on Friday Aug 30, and they might charge him in court and make him join his brother in jail. I remember the 2011 and 2012 case. Eight immigration officers were rounded and investigated but only two were sent to jail while the others were allowed to post bails. One of them, a lady, got an early 'exit' just because her father is close to some top people at the MACC.
So, how about that, Abu Kassim? I have high regards for the MACC and believe more and more people 'should be afraid' of you and your boys.
But how are you going to convince the public that you are not bias in carrying out your duty when the two cases above indicates MACC as 'a monster' to avoid? I believe in good jurisdiction and discretion in dealing with all cases, including in attending to witnesses.
The MACC needs a good PR division to boost public confident in this 'monster'. If we need their fullest support and cooperation, you must 'stay human' and not too obsessed with your success of pinning 'the culprits and sending them to jail'.
However, this pride of 'tangkap orang rasuah' has been deeply instilled in MACC's each and every officer. This makes them forget about 'humanity' and most of them can't even smile after joining the force. They turned robots!
And sorry to say, they are more fond of going after the 'small fish' than the big ones. They would be happy to nab a policeman who takes RM5 from a traffic offender than going after some big shots who collaborate with members of the underworld and senior custom officers to smuggle undeclared goods into the country, which costs the government billions of ringgit every year in taxes and duties.
I believe those in Case 2 received instruction from some seniors, who escaped interrogation and prosecution. Reading the papers, we will notice that the 'set of sentences' vary - a policeman who took RM5 may end up a year in jail while a politician's relative who took RM1 million from a contractor may have to spend 6 months or get acquitted).
In a dialogue session with the MACC last year, I suggested that those found guilty of 'minor graft offenses' should be penalised to perform community service for a couple of months and attend regular counseling'.
If the police locks-up or jails all minor traffic offenders, I think the government may need to build at least 10 more jails and 1,000 lock ups to house them. But in wooing the public confident and educating them to observe the rules, we must also put ourselves in their shoes.
Yes, there are good and bad cops; good and bad lawyers. Is all MACC personnel clean when the two cases (Case 1 and Case 2) proved otherwise?
There are still loopholes in defining 'corruption'. Until the MACC can come up with standard definitions on 'rasuah' - which include political fund, political money, 'upah', 'ganjaran', consultation fees, etc - better be carefull when telling someone that he is 'guilty'.
Even the magistrates must not pass sentences at their whim and fancy. One may bring to court his or her problems at home and for that, a punitive sentence is slapped on someone who only deserves a lighter sentences.
The MACC must also look at some cases, especially reviewing the jail sentences. To me, some deserve to be shortened while others must be freed. I have seen a few who are already 'in' for a year having mental disorder without any treatment. What would they be when they are out?
Corruption is a moral offense, yes, and those involved must be punished. But it is not fair to equate them with major crimes such as murder, rape, kidnap and others. Or this is what the MACC has in mind?
If one walks into the MACC HQ in Putrajaya and other places, you will see no smile. Even the environment is like 'bilik mayat'! The impression is - once you walk in, you are finished!