Focus View
MACC should not be distracted by JITN
FocusM team | 06 Oct 2017 00:30
We are surprised by the fuss kicked up by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad over the government’s decision to establish the National Integrity and Good Governance Department (JITN). 

He feels the MACC’s independence would be hindered and that it would also be a waste of public funds. The JITN comes under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department. 

Dzulkifli’s outburst has raised eyebrows. It is not often that a public agency head openly criticises a government initiative approved by the Cabinet. 

Why is the MACC commissioner against the JITN? Perhaps he feels the funds allocated to it could instead be channelled towards the MACC. 

The MACC had earlier this year lamented that budget cuts had affected its operations as it was short of manpower.
But what is difficult to understand is Dzulkifli’s allegation that the MACC’s independence would be hindered by the JITN. What does he mean by this? 

Has the JITN the power to investigate cases of corruption? Will it have power to make arrests?   

The truth is, the JITN is merely an upgrade of the Integrity and Good Governance Division under the PM’s Department. The upgrade was done in consultation with relevant agencies to ensure there would be no duplication of duties. 
 
The government has explained that the JITN does not have the power to influence the MACC or, for that matter, other independent agencies such as the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, Malaysian Institute of Integrity and Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission. And these agencies are not complaining about the JITN.  

The JITN’s role is to initiate and drive policy change and strengthen government processes. And that includes ensuring cases of abuse of power and graft are investigated thoroughly.

As the head of an independent agency, Dzulkifli must not be seen to be interfering in government initiatives, especially those approved by the Cabinet. He should instead continue his efforts to seek more funding for the MACC. He should also push for the MACC to be given prosecution powers. 

The public wants the MACC to be given more autonomy. Let’s hope this happens soon. While the MACC is doing a commendable job in fighting graft, Dzulkifli should not be distracted and concentrate on doing what he knows best.