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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Failure of Our Institutions

 

When MACC opened a Twitter account some months ago, I was actually pleasantly surprised that it chose to follow my twitter account. I promptly decided to return the compliment by following MACC on Twitter.

From then on, I could read MACC’s instant reports of the Teoh Beng Hock RCI proceedings on Twitter. I must say it was a good initiative by MACC. Kudos to whoever that was in MACC who decided to utilise  the social-networking facility by engaging the cyber-society through Twitter.

At the height of the Sarawak election campaign, I decided that it was about time that I had a two-way communication with MACC over Twitter. Conscious of the fact that the biggest election issue for that election was the alleged wealth – which were not rebutted or categorically denied – of Taib Mahmud and his family members, I decided to tickle MACC’s feet with a question.

My question to MACC over Twitter was “why doesn’t MACC investigate the wealth of Taib Mahmud?”

I did that because from what I gathered over various reports – which I must say were unconfirmed but were not met by firm denials – Taib Mahmud and his family members own vast properties in Sarawak, Canada and other countries. The wealth imputed to him and his family would, if proven to be true, far exceed the amount of his salaries, allowances, bonuses and perks as a Chief Minister, even if it is assumed that he spent all those income on acquiring properties and nothing else throughout his tenure as the Chief Minister of Sarawak.

To my simple mind, surely Taib Mahmud has a lot to explain on how he managed to acquire such vast properties during his tenure as the Chief Minister. If he said that he was a good businessman who manage to accumulate such wealth, then the next question would be where did he find the time to undertake such businesses when he should really be managing Sarawak on full time basis.

So I asked MACC the above question on Twitter.

The reply which I got from MACC was disappointing, to say the least. It was either a sign that MACC did not fully understand its functions as an agency or was reflective of an institution which exists just as a Christmas decoration on a very colourful street in GagaLand.

The reply was “we need proof, we will investigate only when there is proof.” Or something to that effect.

And so I shot back, “isn’t the function of investigation to find proof?”

I did not get any reply to that one till today.

My public engagement with MACC thus met with an early termination.

MACC perhaps does not really understand what its functions as an investigative agency are. May I put it in simple term.

When there are any media report of alleged corruption or abuse of power, MACC is supposed to investigate. If the reports are clear enough, MACC does not even have to wait for the public to lodge a report. Any of its officers can lodge a report to start the ball rolling.

MACC does not wait for proof. MACC is supposed to find the proof by investigating into the matter. The purpose of investigation is to get proof. If there are proof, there is no real necessity for an investigation. Get it, MACC?

In any event, the real purpose of an investigation is not to get proof. It is to get information and evidence. It is not for MACC to proof anything at all. When MACC completes the investigation, it has to compile all the information and evidence and send it to the Attorney General Chambers.

The AGC is then supposed to decide whether all the information and evidence gathered by MACC constitute sufficient proof to prosecute the person being investigated. It is not then for MACC to prove anything. The burden of proving guilt is on the AGC if and when it decides go prosecute.

Get it, MACC? Or do you want me to spell that out in Bahasa Melayu?

Last week I read that MACC was to investigate Taib Mahmud. Good for you MACC. Have you got the proof now, may I ask? Or you have finally understood what you were supposed to do now eh?

While I am at it, may I suggest that MACC does all its interrogations, erm, sorry, interviews on the ground in a glass room complete with working CCTV system and manned 24 hours so that no interviewee could commit suicide in your premises again please? (Someone suggested that MACC’s officer might commit suicide during this investigation! LOL!).

Although I was on leave for the last two weeks, it did not also escape me that testimonies were given in Court that the former Menteri Besar of Selangor, Khir Toyo, bought a piece of land worth RM6.5 million for just RM3.5 million from a businessman who has businesses in Selangor and more particularly with Selangor state agencies. Those state agencies needless to say were answerable to Khir Toyo. I think he even held the position of Chairman of some of them.

Khir Toyo, according to later testimonies, paid a whopping RM6.5 million for renovation work on that property, turning the already huge mansion into a Balinese- styled mansion. If that was not enough to make us, ordinary Malaysians, choke in our own puke, he even paid that 6.5 million smakeroons in CASH!

Let us do some simple mathematics, shall we?

Khir Toyo was the MB of Selangor for 8 years. Assuming his income as an MB and as Chairman of the various state agencies was RM100000 a month, his total income for the whole 8 year tenure would be RM9.6 million.

Now, assuming he did not spend a single sen from that RM9.6 million to buy anything from his obedient wife or to buy some tempe which he admittedly consumed to preserve his youthful look, he would still be short of RM400000 to be able to pay for a total sum of RM10 million which he spent in acquiring the property and building the mansion.

This brings into question the collective wisdom of MACC in preferring a charge for fraudulently acquiring the land instead of for abuse of power against Khir Toyo. The former carries a maximum sentence of only 2 year imprisonment while the latter carries a much heftier sentence.

Perhaps MACC has its own reasons for doing as they did and we, the people, can only hope that the reasons are purely one of practicality and is grounded on legal basis rather than some political motivations or external factors. But one cannot escape to note that Anwar Ibrahim was previously charged for abuse of power for reasons much flimsier than the one in the Khir Toyo case.

It is in a situation such as this that public accountability is paramount. MACC suffers from an almost hallucinated state of belief that it is operating at a very high standard and is, for all intent and purposes, above board, and in particular, above political pressure. The public however does not suffer from such grandiose delusion. In 2011, the people demand accountability from public institutions, even more so from such an important institution which lies at the heart of proper governance.

It is in cases such as this that MACC’s action is open to scrutiny by the people who are increasingly  aware of their rights. When there are actions which are smack of double standard, the public would be quick to judge. It is therefore MACC’s duty to account for its action.

Meanwhile, the police force is or appears to be a leviathan of some sorts.

Buried and tainted in a litany of unspeakable  abuses of force and power, for which the force has not even attempted to own up, let alone unequivocally apologise, the police force is an institution which has lost almost all of its credibility in the eyes of the public.

From the time of Dr Mahathir, where the police force was used as a carriage donkey for whatever Machiavellian schemes which he set out to undertake (I may be insulting Machiavelli here), the police force has times and again failed to rise up above political patronisation and meet public expectations.

It has carried mattresses into Courts; provided dodgy DNA  analysis and result as testimony; allegedly summarily executed hundreds of alleged criminals (for which there have been no more than flimsy denials that they were acting in self defence as an explanation); arrested people who were just carrying some candles by the streets and the lawyers who were going to see their clients.

The list goes on and on. In recent memory, we have the mysterious death of Kugan; the fatal shooting of a 14 year old boy, Aminurasyid and recently the killing of 3 young men which, according to the pathologist report, took place in seemingly “execution” fashion.

The most recent is the story of a bank manager who spent 3 days in a lock up for not wearing a seatbelt, as reported by Malaysiakini. Even if we take the police’s story as accurate and true, that the bank manager did say “Lu apa kuasa mahu ambil gua punya lesen dan IC?” to the police officer and that, in the mind of the police constituted an obstruction of a government officer from discharging his duties, what was the necessity to arrest and obtained a remand order to keep him in a lock up for 3 days?

What further investigations which were necessary for the police to undertake? If the bank manager had said that and the police had opined that that constituted an offence as alleged, couldn’t the police prepare an investigation paper there and then and pass it to the AG Chambers for further action? What was there to be investigated further which would warrant a 3 day lock up?

It was as clear as daylight (without the seasonal haze, of course) that the police’s action was unwarranted and is an abuse of power. It was the police force acting as complainant, investigator, prosecutor, judge and executioner.

Again, like the MACC, the police force is an essential institution in the machination of governance in any state, modern or quasi-modern. Even during the Melaka Sultanate, the office of the Temenggong (equivalent to the office of the Inspector General of Police) was taken seriously by  none other than the Sultan himself. Sultan Allaudin Riayat Shah, for example, realising that crime rate was creeping up, took it upon himself to do the Temenggong’s job one night just to show that the Temenggong was more than a little slacking in his KPI rating.

It is thus paramount that the police force should rise up to the  challenge and demands of the people – as opposed to the State’s – and start proving that it is an institution worthy of the trust and respect of the people which it so craves. There is no reward, in terms of trust and respect, for the police to so often beat its own chest and proclaim that it is the best there is; that it protects and serves to protect and that the crime rates have so decreased that it is now safe for an old woman to walk on the street with a handbag and a mobile phone at 11 at night.

It is in the action and in the accountability for such action that the police force is judged by the people. The numbers in the KPI do not count as far as the people are concerned. Nothing else would satisfy the insatiable cravings of the people for a police force which is trustworthy, efficient and dependable than a thorough cleaning up of the force; an above and across the board approach towards the performance of its functions; the proper usage of its powers and exercise of its jurisdiction as  well as a more “human” communication skills.

Yesterday also saw a shocking news in the Singapore Straits Times about our immigration boys abusing 2 women from Singapore who were arrested for allegedly entering Malaysia illegally. This is the kind of moronic, if not Neanderthal-isque approach by our front-line agency, in so far as foreign visitors are concerned, which puts Malaysia firmly on the list of GagaLand.

How we seem to treat refugees and illegal immigrants seem to be the highlight of international concerns all this while. And to think that we are now desirous to enter into a people swapping agreement with Australia!

Elsewhere, we have news that Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Bashir of Sudan have been invited to an economic forum at Putrajaya. Who is the bright spark who actually invited these two international miscreants to Malaysia – to attend an economic forum at that? What can the participants of the forum learn from these two that they cannot learn from Daim Zainuddin or Mohd Nor Yaacob?

Mugabe has succeeded in transforming Zimbabwe into an iconic state in the annual award of Inflation magazine. Bashir, on the other hand, has a warrant of arrest issued by the International Criminal Court hanging over his head. And yet we invited them to an economic forum in Putrajaya.

Of course Mugabe has been rumoured to be in Malaysia seeking medical attention in not so distant a past. He is a good acquaintance, if not friend, of Dr Mahathir.

Nothing could supersede that news, in terms of sheer shock and awe, than the evening revelation yesterday, that the Ministry of Tourism had spent a whopping RM1.8 million to build and launch an FB page, as reported by the Malaysian Insider.

50 million of people around the world spent only 5 minutes of their time, some electricity and broadband charges to open their FB account. I started this blog with nothing other than my two hand and two fingers and a bit of processing power left in my head after more than 20 years appearing in our Courts. And yes, our Ministry of Tourism spent ONE POINT EIGHT MILLION bucks to open an FB page.

If MACC could work overtime to investigate the alleged mis-usage of funds to the tune of several thousands ringgit by DAP – which led to Teoh Beng Hock’s death – I am sure MACC would display the same kind of enthusiasm in pursuing this utter crap.

The expenses could be well justified for all we know, but investigate we must.

Otherwise, we would continue to fail.

19 comments:

*P* said...

guten tag und gute arbeit, herr art!

AnesthMO said...

Dear Art,
Can you clarify for the layman the difference between "proof" and "evidence"?

PahNur said...

Welcome home Art...to distasteful reality of Malaysia Boleh.

The formation of MACC had become anything BUT an eMACCulate erection. Oh, and it's FOOLproof too..it protects the fools who are really baaaaaaaaaad in Ilmu Hisab. They may be good in Ilmu Hisap...sucking money from god knows where (actually, not just God know from where, but if only MACC performs it's prime function, then everyone will know from where), but I think they are trying to confuse people by calculating using the confusing capua (abacus)...

This is what happens when we allow society to become a purely money driven one. Money have become God and God have become a scape goat to attain power hence money.

Is it going to get any better? Optimism is kind of an almost impossible thing to achieve when the disease is an advanced one. The prognosis is almost always poor.....

God help us all....nice phrase...unfortunately, God already said He will help those who help themselves...

Zmas said...

EN ART
ISN'T IT GOOD THAT MACC BEING A SERVING DOG TO GOVT ROSMAH ?
ISN'T IT GOOD THAT MACC KEEP HAVING SUICIDES AT THEIR OFFICES ?
ISN'T IT GOOD THAT TAIB N TOYO HAVE WEALTH BEYOND THEIR SALARIES ?
GOOD GOOD BETTER STILL IF THESE ARROGANT MACC POLICE GOVT ROSMAH DO A LOT MORE OF MISTAKES , TELL THEM TO DO A LOT LOT MORE
UNTIL T POINT RAKYAT CANNOT TAHAN
THEN WE WILL HAVE PUTRAJAYA SOONER.........

Anonymous said...

the way things are going, Rakyat should post eviction notice to current Putrajaya occupants.

Antares said...

MACC appears to be a haven for psychopaths like that Ashraf character who enjoys a good wank after torturing witnesses. Let's not forget that Teoh Beng Hock died under Ahmad Said Hamdan's watch... he can resign but that doesn't absolve him of ultimate responsibility. His successor Abu Kassim is a joke - like the EC chairman.

AT Saari said...

hahh...if a person, interrogated by the MACC in their glass wall gound floor interrogation room, the next news we will hear is that the person committed suicide by throwing himself to the second floor. that's the reputation of the MACC now.

mpn kadaram said...

Welcome back Art,we have all the misgivings of a country which is on the way to the abyss of oblivion.A sad state of affairs, only an electoral revolution can change this bizarre state of affairs.

Kris said...

Well said Art as always.

Now if only there were those in the those institutions you mentioned (and more) who have some level of pride, dignity, ethics and integrity who feel both saddened and embarrassed by this sad state of affairs, we might see a turnaround here. And they can hold their heads high again. Or maybe not.....

Anonymous said...

Art,

You failed to include the AG office and the Judiciary as part of the failed institutions.

Why did the PDRM not arrest and remand the Datuk Trio for 3 days when the police were conducting their investigations into distribution and showing of porn material? Till today the so-called investigation is a farce with the police and AG playing musical chairs while the Datuk Trio are still free and painting the town red.

The MACC is, well, busy watching porn and waiting for evidences to drop on their laps before they decide to toss the coin to investigate any graft cases involving their political masters. Even then the MACC will botch up their investigations and prosecution as evident from many such cases. However if it involves the opposition party even though it is only rumoured/alleged by a certain newspaper owned by a major political party, our gallant MACC will immediately stopp ejaculating and jumped into the fray leaving no stones unturned and no witnesses alive to secure a prosecution case.

The failure of our institutions is a reflection of the failure of our government.

Anonymous said...

...“we need proof, we will investigate only when there is proof.”

-------------------------
What MACC meant is they need directive from their political masters instead of proof, no directive no investigation.

Anonymous said...

you would probably have guess it already on the Khir Toyo case based on latest news reports. The key witness is adjudged to give contradictory statements to the Court and MACC and is therefore found to be unreliable. His testimony would then be expunged and MACC's case thrown out because it's key witness is unreliable. Khir Toyo goes free, gets to keep his mansion and is considered cleared of any wrongdoing in the purchase of the mansion.

Am I right?

Anonymous said...

"..what was the necessity to arrest and obtained a remand order to keep him in a lock up for 3 days?"

May I know why the magistrate allowed the application for a 3 day remand.
I think you should write on this issue of magistrates allowing remand order on the flimsiest of reason without going through the merits of the case.
Blame the magistrate as well.

HTC said...

Welcome back, Art! We have missed you during your absence. All the best for the future. Malaysia boleh!

The said...

AnesthMO,

The Hovind challenge referenced yesterday repeatedly called for “scientific proof” of evolution. There is no proof in science. Proof is for mathematics and alcohol. You cannot prove anything in science to a certainty, though you can disprove a lot. All scientific theories are tentative and subject to revision. Even the “law of” gravity is subject to revision, and in fact was revised by Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Science is about evidence. Evidence is the result of a structured scientific experiment or observation that supports the claims of a theory. In order to be useful a different outcome for the experiment or observation must be able to falsify or disprove the theory.

That is, there must be a well defined result that if observed would demonstrate that the theory would be false. Every experiment or observation must be structured to test the theory, thus allowing the possibility for it to fail. A theory can be disproved by a single verifiable counter-example, but no amount of confirming evidence can ever demonstrate a theory to 100% certainty.

http://yalb.wordpress.com/2007/06/19/proof-vs-evidence/

The said...

/// Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Giving or procuring evidence is the process of using those things that are either (a) presumed to be true, or (b) were themselves proven via evidence, to demonstrate an assertion's truth. Evidence is the currency by which one fulfills the burden of proof. ///

If I understand correctly, one uses evidence to prove something.

Example:
The evidence -- Anwar's sperm in Saiful's rectum.

The proof -- that Anwar sodomizes Saiful.

Of course there are complications, like maybe the sperm was planted there somehow.

Anonymous said...

yip! most of them subservient to ONE BiG brother...sometimes i wonder which one would protect us in the case of seeking justice, if not the judiciary!

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Anonymous said...

macc is non other than that pariah dog to the master of this rotten bn government.a weapon aim pointing to the opposition only.