Latheefa: MACC doesn’t just arrest bribery, we prevent it too

MACC chief Latheefa Koya says focus on preventing corruption is equally important to transform Malaysia into a nation free of bribery and one that denounces such malpractices and culture. — Picture by Hari Anggara
MACC chief Latheefa Koya says focus on preventing corruption is equally important to transform Malaysia into a nation free of bribery and one that denounces such malpractices and culture. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) adopts a two-pronged approach in eradicating corruption in the country, its chief Latheefa Koya said in a radio interview today.

She said focus on preventing corruption is equally important to transform Malaysia into a nation free of bribery and one that denounces such malpractices and culture.

During an interview with Bernama radio this morning, Latheefa said her aim is to make MACC known as a prevention commission more than anything else.

“MACC should not be seen just as a department that arrests people and remands them. We are actually a prevention commission. Prevention here means how we can stop bribery from happening instead of waiting till something happens and then take action.

“We want to focus on recovering money that was given to someone as a form of bribe. So that the government can use the money we recover and channel it to agencies or ministries that need them to help the people.

“For example, we heard that the Health Ministry is lacking funds, and they had to cut staff salaries... if MACC can help recover misappropriated funds and give it back to the ministry, it will be good,” she said.

Latheefa added that there are laws the MACC can use to take back money that had been disbursed as bribes.

“I always tell my officers to be creative and to look at the Acts. As there are provisions within the laws that allow us to recover the money. We can issue compounds and recover the money as long as we have sufficient evidence,” she said.

The former director of human rights group Lawyers for Liberty said MACC's target for 2020 is to focus on prevention campaigns among other initiatives.

“Prevention means we are not too late. We are not just about arrest and investigations. For instance, if there are a lot of complaints regarding one particular department, we can always conduct a study to find out the reason, it could be because of low salary, lack of monitoring and rotation system.

“We can then advise the department accordingly and instruct them to change some of its procedures. This helps more than waiting for someone to be arrested for bribery,” she told Bernama radio.

Latheefa is the commission’s first woman chief. Her appointment was announced on the eve of Hari Raya Puasa on June 4, but took effect on June 1. She tendered her resignation from PKR in an email on June 3.

She replaced Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull who was said to have decided to shorten his service contract that was to end in May 2020.

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