KUCHING: The Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) ought to be given powers of prosecution.

In arguing for this, Sarawak Business Federation (SBF) secretary-general Jonathan Chai Voon Tok said it was high time to tighten the Anti-Corruption Act by amending certain provisions.

Jonathan Chai

“At the moment, MACC’s power is limited to investigation only as the prosecution power lies with the Attorney-General’s Office,” he said to New Sarawak Tribune yesterday.

“The amendment would allow us to adopt a similar provision like that of Hong Kong to make a suspect prove his sources of income if his lifestyle does not commensurate with it.

Chai was commenting on a directive by MACC Chief Commissioner, Latheefa Koya, who urged civil servants and staff of government-linked companies (GLC) to stop meeting tender applicants over coffee outside their offices.

“I think it’s a valid point, but we should not take her words too literally,” said Chai, who is also secretary-general of the Kuching Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCGCCI).

“I would take it to mean that she advised civil servants and GLC officers to ‘keep a safe distance’ from potential opportunities of being bribed by unscrupulous businessmen.

He, however, lamented that it was an open secret that the culture of corruption was rooted in the system and it would take time and persistent efforts to combat it.

“To avoid having coffee or entertainment with tender applicants may not be effective,” he said.

“Personally, I think creating public awareness through anti-corruption education especially among young people was vital in our efforts to eradicate corruption.”

Chai said that the subject of corruption should be incorporated into school syllabi so that good values could be inculcated in students.

“Of course, we also need to tighten our enforcement of the law and make sure the culprits don’t get away unpunished on technical grounds.

“It’s a promise of Pakatan Harapan in its election manifesto to make the governance of our GLCs world class on par with international standards.

“In addition, it is also the promise of the PH government to get the best value for taxpayers’ money.”

Chai stressed that among the measures that should be adopted are widening the usage of information technology and online system to minimise or even eliminate personal and political influences on decision-making.

“Hopefully, our new government would be committed to bring about positive changes in its new administration.