LIMIT THE POWER OF PM TO INTERFERE IN NATIONAL ANTI-FINANCIAL CRIME CENTRE (NFCC)
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) welcomes the introduction by Law Minister Liew Vui Keong in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday of the National Anti-Financial Crime Centre (NFCC) Bill for the formation of an agency that would coordinate operations among 12 different government agencies and centralise information relating to financial crimes. Indeed there is a dire need for such an agency as financial crimes are usually complex in nature and transverse many different sectors and transnational in scope.
However, Bersih 2.0 objects to the extension of the Prime Minister’s power to interfere in an agency like NFCC whereby the appointment of the Director-General (DG) of NFCC is the sole prerogative of the PM and the agency is parked under the Prime Minister’s Department (PMD). We strongly disagree with the Law Minister’s explanation that there is no requirement for the appointment of the DG to go through the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Major Appointments. This is a new law, make it part of the process that the appointment must be vetted by the PSC and they have the power to reject unqualified and partisan candidates.
Lessons must be learnt from the 1MDB scandal that allowing the PM to have control over NFCC would potentially make it a “cover-up” agency for financial crimes committed by future Prime Ministers or the government, unless this is the intention – to facilitate cover-ups. To concentrate such power under the PMD would also be a violation of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s Promise 12 of their election manifesto to limit the PM’s ability to manipulate key institutions by creating stronger check and balance mechanisms, with relevant powers will be decentralized to other bodies, including to the Parliament.
Bersih 2.0 strongly urges the NFCC Bill be revised to include a transparent vetting process for the appointment of the DG by the Parliament through the PSC for Major Appointments, and for the NFCC to be placed under the Bank Negara, to minimise direct interference by the PM and the Executive. The country could ill-afford a repeat of a financial scandal the magnitude of 1MDB and legislated preventive measures must be in place immediately not just for this NFCC Bill but for other amendments to secure the independence of key institutions, including Bank Negara itself and the Parliament.
Bersih 2.0 also suggests that the term “Director-General” be replaced with “Chairman” as DG are usually associated with the civil service and such appointments are initiated by the Chief Secretary to the government.
Bersih 2.0 wishes to remind PM Tun Dr Mahathir of his own words in the forward to the Buku Harapan (PH Manifesto)…”With the publication of this book, we also humbly pledge that we are willing to be judged by the people on how far we fulfill our promises when we are in government. If we fail or if we break our promises, by all means reject us in the next general election.” He further added that, “We cannot hope this regime (BN) will correct itself. The only way to correct the situation is by bringing in a new government that has the credibility to implement the promises in this manifesto. A change of government will correct the mistakes of the current regime.”
Show us your credibility, fulfill all your promises, especially your promise to reform our institutions.
Statement issued by:
The Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0
Image credit : The Sun Daily