Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Will Anwar remove compound for AMLA offences? PM Anwar Ibrahim should walk the talk fast on his pledge to combat corruption especially in government...



Media Statement – 29/11/2022

PM Anwar Ibrahim should walk the talk fast on his pledge to combat corruption especially in government

Law Enforcement & Judiciary Must Function Independently Without any Interference

As our new Prime Minister Anwar pledged to fight corruption, there is a need to strengthen laws against corruption, abuse of power and even money laundering. It is common for any Prime Minister and political parties to take a position against corruption and abuse of power, but what they then do is more important.

Abolition of Compounds for AMLA and corruption like offences

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) calls for the abolition of compound for corruption and related offences including offences under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA). These are serious offences, more so when it involves Ministers and politicians.

Section 92 of AMLA Act now sadly allows for all offences in this Act to be compounded. It states, “…(1) The competent authority or relevant enforcement agency, as the case may be, may, with the consent of the Public Prosecutor, compound any  offence under this Act or under regulations made under this Act, by accepting from the person reasonably suspected of having committed  the offence such amount not exceeding fifty per centum of the amount of the maximum fine for that offence … to which that person would have been liable if he had been convicted of the offence…’. Such offences should be dealt by the court, and NOT by the Minister of Finance or the Minister appointed competent authority or enforcement agency.

The decisions with regard compound are now administrative decisions of the Minister or enforcement agency, not judicial decisions. It puts ‘pressure’ on Ministers especially when it comes to a fellow party or coalition member.

Any accused, after being charged in court, can always plead guilty, and this plea will mitigate the sentence imposed. It is BEST when such accused, especially Ministers and politicians, are dealt with by the Independent Judiciary.

The effect of an offer and the acceptance of an offer of compound, means an end of investigation and thereafter ‘…no prosecution shall be instituted in respect of the offence against the person to whom the offer to compound was made…’(sec. 92(4) AMLA)

Administrative Avoidance of Trials and Convictions using Compounds

When it comes to sitting Members of Parliament and/or Senators, it must be noted that Article 48 of the Federal Constitution, states that an MP or Senator will be disqualified if  ‘(e) he has been convicted of an offence by a court of law in the Federation (or, before Malaysia Day, in the territories comprised in the State of Sabah or Sarawak or in Singapore) and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or to a fine of not less than two thousand ringgit and has not received a free pardon…’. There is nothing said about compounds.

Thus, the administrative compound can wrongly be used to prevent a fellow politician from being charged, tried, convicted and sentenced by court, thus saving this current or maybe future MPs or Senators from being disqualified as MP/Senator by reason of conviction, as is now provided in Malaysia’s Constitution.

It is reasonable to say that generally, no innocent person would accept a compound offer, and pay the compound amount, more so when it is a large sum. An innocent person would rather go to court to prove his/her innocence than ‘admit guilt’ by accepting a compound offer. For small offences, a person may choose to pay the small compound to save time and effort in having to go to court.

The availability of compound for small offences, like road traffic offences and violation of MCO requirement maybe acceptable. However, compound should not be available for AMLA offences, corruption, abuse of power offences and some other offences like Occupational Safety and Health. Charge them and let courts decide.

On 21/9/2022, then Pontian Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan was acquitted of charges of money laundering and giving a false statement against him after he agreed to pay a compound of RM1.1 million (Edge Markets, 22/9/2022).  The oddity in this case was that he had already been charged, when the compound offer was taken up. Prosecution will generally never charge any person unless they are confident that they can prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

When this happened, Ahmad Mazlan not only escaped a trial, the risk of conviction and potential disqualification as MP/Senator. He also obtained protection from being further investigated, and charged for the same offence ever again. Sadly, Ahmad Mazlan can be said to have also missed the opportunity to prove himself innocent in court. Doubts will remain in many minds.

Regulations/Law to Deter Corruption by PM and Cabinet

At present, there is no law/regulations that govern the conduct and discipline of the Prime Minister and Cabinet members. Though Cabinet members are public officers, they are excluded from disciplinary provisions that apply to Malaysian public officers.

Therefore, MADPET proposed that Malaysia’s new government extend the application of the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993 to also include members of the Cabinet, and maybe even MPs.  Alternatively, a new law.

That public officers regulations even deals with ‘presents’, where it says that public officer ‘…shall not receive or give nor shall he allow his spouse or any other person to receive or give on his behalf any present, whether in a tangible form or otherwise, from or to any person, association, body, or group of persons if the receipt or giving of such present is in any way connected, either directly or indirectly, with his official duties…’ There are many provisions in the Regulations that will deter corrupt practice.

It will be best of members of the Cabinet, and even MPs are also governed by such regulations, or better still laws which will also deter corrupt practices and keep our Cabinet members clean. Following former Prime Minister Najib’s conviction for abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving RM42 millions of funds, crimes committed whilst holding government power, trust in the Prime Minister and members of Cabinet have diminished, and we need laws and regulations that will also deter such crimes. Trust in the PM and Cabinet needs to be restored.

Corruption and Abuse of Power

When a person/corporation contesting for a government contract/project, pays monies or provides benefits, to a Minister or persons connected with the power to decide or influence contract awarding, before or after the awarding of the tender, it is corrupt practice. It should not matter whether the monies or benefits flows directly into the said politician/public officer pocket, or to his/her family members, his/her related ‘political funds’ or political party, NGOs or charities which has links with the said politician or public servant, it will still be corruption. We are fed up, when we hear some politicians argue that the said monies were for themselves but some political funds or charity.

Annual Asset Declaration laws – to ensure no enrichment by reason of ‘corruption’, etc.

A law on regular Asset Declaration, that provides for regular, preferable every year, is needed. Asset Declaration is not for the public to know how rich or poor a Minister or MP is, but really is a means for the public to be sure  that the said MP or Minister did not use his/her position power to accumulate wealth wrongly.

This can only be done by comparing subsequent Declarations with the 1st Declaration made immediately when he/she gets elected/appointed. It is sad that previous governments did not understand the reason behind asset declarations, and chose to only require one asset declaration – making it impossible for the rakyat(people) to be able to determine whether there was abuse and wrongful personal enrichment – there was no subsequent asset declaration where they could compare with. Making false declaration must be a criminal offence.

Political Funding Law

The law on political funding, which was earlier reported would be tabled in October, must also be speedily tabled now. It must cover not just political parties, but also individual MP’s and Senator’s. For years, Malaysian MPs did receive large additional funds, sometimes millions of Ringgit annually for expenditure in the Constituency, but alas there was no transparency as to how these public funds were used was never disclosed. Many wonders how much of the peoples’ monies went into the MP’s own pockets directly or indirectly, or wrongly flowed to their party or supporters? Accountability and Transparency is needed.

WALK the Talk, and end corruption pandemic in Malaysia

MADPET calls for the PM Anwar Ibrahim to WALK THE TALK – to demonstrate that his pledge against corruption and abuse of power will be followed by speedy real concrete actions, including the tabling of needed amendments to laws and new laws that will also deter acts of corruption and abuse of power amongst the Cabinet and also MPs in Malaysia.

The Prime Minister needs to act fast, remembering how Prime Ministers and governments in recent times change rapidly, whereby since GE14, we had 3 different Prime Ministers. Delay is no more an option.  

Charles Hector

For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)


What PH and Anwar have pledged

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's appointment as the 10th prime minister could finally herald in a new dawn not only on the political front but also see a host of new initiatives introduced to fulfil the election pledges made in the 15th General Election (GE15) campaign.

The 75-year old, who leads Pakatan Harapan (PH), had promised to make sweeping changes in the administration, outlining measures like combating corruption and strengthening democracy, managing the cost of living, improving competitiveness and also reducing the size of a bloated cabinet.

PH had in its manifesto pledged to overcome the cost of living issues by eliminating cartels, ensuring sufficient supplies of food products and increasing the workforce in agriculture to guarantee food security.

The coalition also pledged to build a clean and trustworthy system of governance by strengthening the integrity of institutions, safeguarding parliamentary sovereignty as the core pillar of democracy and guaranteeing media freedom together with the rakyat's freedom of expression.

The coalition is also committed to increase the competitiveness of Malaysia's plural society across by reaching out to those across geographic location, socioeconomic class, background and ethnicity.

Anwar's electoral pledges also outlined action in tackling climate issues faced by the country through implementing a climate change act, ecological fiscal transfers, marine protection areas and transboundary haze act.

PH also pledged to see the full implementation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report as steps in empowering the peace and prosperity in the regions of Sabah and Sarawak.

The most defining of the pledge made by Anwar is his determination to axe the bloated 70-minister cabinet brought upon by the previous administration and to take a pay cut.

Anwar had said he felt ashamed as the RM80,000 awarded as salary for a prime minister was in stark contrast to those of an Orang Asli villager he visited who struggled to even make RM400, as did minimum wage earners of RM1,500. - NST, 24/11/2022


No comments: