Friday, July 31, 2009

Ex-ACA top gun: Stop showering criticism on MACC

By Yip Ai Tsin

A former top ACA official has called for a stop to all speculation and unsavoury remarks against the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), and to wait for the outcome of Royal Commission of Inquiry into the death political aide Teoh Beng Hock.

The call was sounded by the former Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) director on investigations Abdul Razak Idris (right) who said, "MACC is now pre-judged and this is not right. We have to wait for the inquest as it involves sudden death. Moreover, it will be a special inquest because of the publicity and sensitivity of this case.

"We do not know what had happened out there. People talk out of frustration, speculation, sentiments, political spite and anger.”

He advised the public not to indulge in negative speculation, instead allow the inquest run its course.

“If an officer is guilty, let him be charged. If MACC is at fault, let the natural course of justice prevail. If the rules and regulations are not right, then the royal commission will recommend the right course of action," he said.

He maintained that the MACC has always been neutral, working without 'fear or favour'.

Abdul Razak maintained that the officers are trained to be neutral.

“You cannot just work for the ruling party. It would affect your conscience. ACA and the present MACC have never been biased,” he said.

Bigwigs not spared

Whether people know or not, all mentris besar, irrespective of being in the opposition or with the ruling party have been subjected to probes by these anti-corruption bodies, he said.

“We have even investigated prime ministers.” He added that leaders must realise that once in power the public's eye will be on them.

Those days, he added, they had to amass 90 percent of the evidence before a person could be charged.

He said Section 30 of the MACC 2009 Act bestows very wide powers on the investigating officer to call up witnesses at anytime. However, he said that there are also guidelines for the accused and rules for lockups.

"If they assault a witness, they can be punished under the Penal Code. However, as far as witnesses are concerned, we can interview them anytime of the day and night.

Abdul Razak said that the term “day to day” as stated in Section 30 (3)(a) of the MACC 2009 Act does not mean "daytime" but "running from day to day".

MACC accommodating body

"If the complainant lodges the report at night, then should we not record his statement at that time itself?

Abdul Razak said that although the officers do not go out of the normal norms and procedures or go against human rights, they are allowed to conduct interviews after office hours or at night.

"If the witness is only free in the evenings or nights, then we can accommodate him at night. It all depends on various circumstances. There cannot be any hard and fast rule," he said.

There's no set time limit for interviews as every investigator will have his own style of doing his work. So fixing time limits will not be effective.

"He manages his own investigation. The Act provides that we can interview anytime. Investigators are supposed to work 24 hours.

"Investigators are also humans. During my heydays, we used to sleep in the office and sometimes with the witnesses, complainants or even the accused. Those days we did not have lock-ups. So we arrested and investigated there and then," he said.

He said people tend to mistake interviews for interrogations but the objective remains the same, which is to get the truth and evidence from the witness.

Officers do not upset witnesses by making racial slurs as this could defeat the purpose of digging out the truth.

"If you make a person angry, you will not get the truth. In any interview or interrogation, there is a way to make people talk and tell the truth without resorting to physical force or abuse," he said.

Abdul Razak began his ACA career in 1974 and retired in 2004.

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