Independent body to investigate enforcement agencies will restore public confidence

30 Mar 2023 03:48pm
KUALA LUMPUR - The establishment of an independent body to take action and investigate all complaints, allegations and misconduct involving all enforcement agencies is good news for Malaysians if it is actually successfully realised.

Chairman of Alliance for Safe Community Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the setting up of the independent body is related to the issue of public confidence in the solution to every complaint they make.

"The establishment of the independent body is a guarantee that every complaint will be investigated independently and then allow action to be taken against the party (enforcement agency) involved.

"It is actually a long-awaited move and I hope the Attorney-General’s Chambers will expedite the review and the establishment of the independent body,” he said when contacted.

Lee said the government, during the second Prime Minister the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein’s administration, had proposed the establishment of an Ombudsman system based on the model created in New Zealand, which is a system with the same characteristics as the independent body.

In 2018, the seventh Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also raised the same issue, he said.

"And now, the 10th Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is also proposing the setting up of this independent body...this is very important as we cannot expect the enforcement agencies to investigate their own officers,” Lee added.

Not denying the need importance of transparency in investigations into enforcement agencies, Assoc Prof Dr Khairil Azmin Mokhtar, a legal, constitutional, government and human rights analyst said the establishment of that independent body would certainly take a long time.

Hence, the lecturer from the International Islamic University Malaysia proposed for the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), which is currently responsible for overseeing reports and complaints against enforcement agencies except for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), to be empowered first.
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"The EAIC should be further strengthened considering its broad jurisdiction but limited resources. Its capabilities need to be improved in terms of officers, facilities and finances.

"However, it is actually not possible to arbitrarily establish an independent body because each government agency has its own service commission. It needs to be done carefully so as not to contravene the Constitution and not interfere with the autonomy of the existing public service,” he said.

Dr Khairil Azmin said the MACC, currently under the Prime Minister’s Department, should also be given serious attention including by considering the recommendation that the agency be placed under the purview of the Parliament, thus putting an end to allegations of selective prosecution by the agency.

Meanwhile, crime analyst Datuk Shahul Hamid Abdul Rahim proposed that a formula be created first to identify the causes of leaks, misconduct and other issues involving enforcement agencies before an independent body is established to investigate the matter.

"Bribery, for example, will persist to occur if we do not have the indicators that will lower the public perception of government agencies. Ascertain the formula by looking at the cause and reasons, rooms and opportunities for the crime to be committed.

"Before establishing an independent body to investigate, it is better to set up an independent body to review all enforcement agencies where leaks occurred...gather all reports on the weaknesses in each of these enforcement agencies,” he said.

Last Tuesday, Anwar in reply to a question at the Dewan Rakyat, said that he had asked the Attorney-General (AG) to relook into the proposal to set up an independent body to investigate and take action on all complaints, accusations and misconduct involving enforcement agencies.

Anwar said this is to ensure that enforcement agencies such as the police, customs and immigration departments, as well as the MACC, do not conduct their own investigations into any cases or complaints received involving its officers or personnel.

He said the proposed establishment of the independent body is appropriate because it is more comprehensive and can take action on all complaints involving enforcement agencies. - BERNAMA