4 MEO-Net’s observers paid a visit to MACC on Apr 11th, 10.00am, considering that MACC is part of the election administrator for the Sarawak state elections. MACC’s officer Sendri Ugi who was transfered here recently answered our questions-after telling us that all the higher ups were all away. From the discussion we were told the following:
* MACC has 4 regional offices in Sarawak with the following hot line numbers: Kuching (082-245115); Sibu(084-311982); Bintulu(086-316200), Miri (085-415404) Limbang is serviced by Miri officers;
* There are 80 officers in Sarawak and another 30-40 arrive from West Malaysia to handle more work from the elections;
* their main job is to monitor ceramahs; he claim that there is not 1 case of prosecution over the recent years; Then we mentioned for his knowledge that in 2008 an independent candidate had been caught trying to send money to buy vote in some long house in Baleh but get caught by BN workers; the guy was brought to a police station-then the news never appear again to inform the public of what happened afterwards. Another more recent case involved a PKR candidate who went to the press with his story that he was brought to a police station where the chief police there made offer to him to withdraw from the election; He then agreed to check the outcome of the police cases;
* he said that the MACC can investigate but it is up to the Attorney General to decide whether to press charges against the accused. He agreed that giving money in an election is bribery but somehow the MACC officers never saw any case of bribery during all the ceramahs monitored by them; The public find vote buying to be common occurrence in political gatherings especially by the ruling party. So: do they merely observe and never take action? How do they explain what the public see regularly that the MACC officers don’t?
* he claimed that the MACC only deal with cases under the Anti-Corruption Act, and the Election Offenses Act is under the jurisdiction of the Election Commission; We told him that the EC has no investigation power -thus the 2 bodies had on occasions push the corruption cases to each other in public forum; Without any settlement to this situation the Election Offenses Act is practically without an enforcer to give bite to its stipulations;
* he also defend the MACC’s procedure that require any complainants to the MACC to not speak about the case to anyone else-unlike the requirement if someone make a police report; While some disclosure may cause difficulties to the investigations-in other cases the public pressure is what cause the cases to be given due attention; 2ndly he also defend the requirement of MACC that the complainant need not be informed of the development of the case; After being told that this will allow the MACC investigator to use the good evidence of corruption to get settlement payment from the accused the MACC officer claim that the public need to have trust on the officers!We raised that the failure of the investigating officer to update the complainants will cause the complainants to believe that the investigators have abuse the vital information from the complainants.
We left after about 30min of an amicable discussion with the MACC officer. We agreed to disagree over the issues which were raised for discussion.