AUGUST 17 — Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) applauds the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for the arrest of Tan Sri Isa Samad in connection with the ongoing investigation into Felda Investment Corporation (FIC)’s hotel purchases in London and Kuching.
TI-M urges all parties to respect MACC’s responsibility to pursue its investigations fully and without fear or favour. Should there be sufficient evidence as deemed by the MACC, a charge should be made and due legal process must take its course. What the rule of law and the public expect is that there should be no interference from any party.
It is important to note that perception and public confidence are important aspects of a democratic system that upholds the rule of law. However today, repeated (or perceived) instances of selective prosecution in corruption cases have led to the formation of a negative perception towards the government.
This negative perception was further fuelled by the manner in which Tan Sri Isa Samad was appointed Acting Chairman of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) by the Prime Minister, barely days after resigning as Chairman of FGV following the corruption allegations made against him. As we are aware, Tan Sri Isa was handpicked by the Prime Minister to head FGV, a government-related entity responsible for looking after the wellbeing of more than 100,000 small holders and their families.
Another element of this case which must be seriously looked into is the level of Corporate Governance (CG) practised in Government Linked Companies (GLCs) and other Public Interest Entities (PIEs). As companies which utilise public funds, CG standards in these entities must be of the highest level.
In this case, if the board of Felda Investment Corp (a subsidiary of Felda) approved the hotel purchases in question, where is the collective responsibility and accountability of the board for its decision? Were they not aware of the huge disparity in valuations of the properties? These questions go to the heart of sound CG practice which is intended to identify and mitigate risks before they become a liability to the company. Isn’t it time we stop the practice of appointing politicians, both current and former, to boards of GLCs and PIEs? Is there such a dearth of professional, independent talent to fill these vacancies? Or is a there a lack of political will to do so?
Today the people are watching and judging to see whether this current case will be allowed to proceed with due legal process, or will it take a sudden turn and end up like other lost cases which were announced with much fanfare, only to end with a whimper. Institutional investors and credit rating agencies are also watching to see how serious Malaysia is in tackling corruption.
The independence of our law enforcement agencies and the judiciary must be upheld, and there should be zero political interference in the development and progress of this case moving forward.
Let justice be done and be seen to be done. The people expect nothing less, being tired of the repeated scandals plaguing our nation.
* Datuk Akhbar Satar is president of Transparency International-Malaysia, an independent, non-governmental and non-partisan organisation committed to the fight against corruption.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisations and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.