AUG 13 — The director-general of Immigration is on the verge of being charged in court. The head of Kelantan Fisheries Department has been nabbed. The director-general of Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board was charged in court today. The question along the corridors of Putrajaya is: who's next?
This is a legitimate question given that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) appears to have thrown off the shackles of fear and conservatism in the fight against graft in the country.
The Malaysian Insider understands that this new approach has more to do with the top two individuals running the ACA than any directive from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
When he became the PM in October 2003, Abdullah told the ACA that it had a carte blanche to tackle corruption. But ACA investigators are by the nature of their work a cynical bunch. They give little credence to public pronouncements by politicians and their bosses. They only move when the top lead by example.
Also, the view within the ranks of ACA officers was that the then DG - Datuk Zulkipli Mat Noor - was more interested in coasting than making a strong statement against corruption in the country.
It did not help that he was to find himself fighting off allegations of corruption and criminal activities. The ACA officers sensed a change in May last year when Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan was appointed as the ACA chief. His deputy was Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed.
Both have been at the forefront of pushing for the setting up of the Anti-Corruption Commission, even telling Cabinet ministers that the body should be based on Hong Kong's ICAC.
They have been working overtime to add flesh to the idea of the commission and hope that the de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim will be able to bring it before Parliament soon, possibly even before the Judicial Appointment Commission Bill.
Said a government official: "For the first time, the PM has an agency chief who is on the same page as him and as committed to fighting corruption.''
On Tuesday, he seemed to suggest that there was one rule for Umno and another for the rest of the country?
"The Umno headquarters has decided and allowed the ACA to come in and investigate, '' he said.
Since when did the ACA need the green light to investigate corruption or bribery? Money politics. Graft. Bribery. Call it anything you want.
But the law states clearly that ACA investigators are empowered to probe any report of corruption, even anonymous complaints. There is no mention of special dispensation for Umno members contesting party elections.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that millions of ringgit are being spent by party members to buy the support of the rank and file and guarantee nominations for the upcoming election in December. Indeed, party officials believe that funds which were dispensed to help Umno candidates in the general elections are now being sprinkled liberally on the ground.
The Malaysian Insider understands that at least two ministers have had reports lodged against them for allegedly buying support. A menteri besar recently complained to the PM that a senior party official was brazenly spending money to remain as the division chief.
"The MB hoped that there could be a mechanism to address such cases, '' said an official familiar with the conversation.
Really, there is no need for any new mechanism. Unleash the ACA and one by one, division chiefs, aspirants to that position and even a minister or two will be arrested and charged in court. Only then, there will be fear among the givers and takers in the party.
Just like what is happening in the Malaysian civil service. Who's next?