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Give it to them R.Nadeswaran, you are not the only one, the whole country, i.e. those who are against corruption, are behind you. Thank you.

Veteran journalist R Nadeswaran today told a public forum that claims of reforming the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) were worth a “good laugh” because it was still not independent.

Commenting on plans to turn the often criticised ACA into a full-fledged commission, Nadeswaran said the new commission was still not independent because prosecutions were still being carried out solely by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

cpps 9mp forum 240408 nadeswaranOn that score, he said the ACA would not achieve its aspiration to emulate Hong Kong’s Independent Commission on Anti-Corruption (ICAC).

“Nothing is going to change. You can call it by any name, they are still not independent […]

“Don’’t expect the big fish to be caught. Don’t expect anything. I like to be proven wrong,” he told a crowd of 50 representatives from civil society groups, the banking industry, government departments and academics.

The forum in Kuala Lumpur titled “Mid-term review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan open forum” was jointly organized by the Centre for Public Policy Studies and the Wawasan Open University.

Nadeswaran was among the three-panel speakers during a discussion on government transparency and accountability. The two other speakers were Subang MP R Sivarasa and former Tuaran MP Wilfred Madius Tangau.

A-G’s discretion

Speaking to Malaysiakini later, Nadeswaran explained that by the limited amount of details released by ACA and the prime minister, it appeared that the new commission has less powers than the ICAC.

Similar to ACA, the ICAC submits its findings to the A-G’s Chambers. However, should the A-G find that no further action is needed, the ICAC can submit the investigations papers to an independent review committee.

Nadeswaran explained that in countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, private prosecutors can also be appointed to prosecute on behalf of anti-graft agencies.

“Even now, ACA has its own deputy public prosecutors. They don’t have to solely rely on the A-G’s discretion,” he said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced pledges to make ACA into a fully independent commission which reports to a parliamentary select committee on anti-graft efforts. The full scope of this committee is still uncertain.

At present, ACA is under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department. Opposition parties and civil society groups have often claimed that this compromises ACA’s independence.

Abdullah’s announcement was heralded by some groups but many voiced reservations in absence of further details.

ACA, which proposed to the premier for its elevation to commission status, has until year end to submit further proposals on how the reforms are to take place.

Veteran journalist: ACA reforms worth a good laugh

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