Civil societies want more say in UN graft convention review process


PETALING JAYA: Civil societies have urged Putrajaya to allow them to take a greater part in the review process of the country’s implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). This comes after the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) and Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) were invited recently to participate in the review process for Article 13 of the convention which deals with participation of societies. In a joint-press conference, C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said it came as a surprise to learn from civil societies in other countries that there was no rule which confined participation of civil societies to one Article. “We were very fortunate that the panel did ask us many questions relating to topics outside of Article 13,” she said. One of the questions the panel asked was regarding existing mechanisms to collect comments on proposed legislation. TI-M executive committee member Chew Phye Keat told it there were no mandatory processes for public consultation, but noted that it did happen occasionally. He revealed to reporters today that on the question of participation in revealing corruption, the civil societies had pointed out the lack of protection the Whistleblower Protection Act actually accorded whistleblowers.

“The fact that you must disclose corruption to law enforcement and that you’re not protected if in disclosing corruption you are committing an offence, creates a general sense of fear to actually report cases of corruption.” He gave an example that if one were to go against the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in disclosing incidences of corruption, the person who made the report would no longer be protected. Another recommendation that the civil societies are making is that Putrajaya continue the practice of revealing the UNCAC review reports to the public. IDEAS chief operating officer Tricia Yeoh said this would ensure the public was aware that Malaysia was a signatory, as well as reveal to the public whether or not Malaysia was actually following the reviews’ recommendations. “This is the second cycle of reviews and it will continue until 2020. The government had actually made the reviews from the previous cycle in 2012 available to the public and we hope they continue that practice.” In 2012, the first cycle dealt with chapters on law enforcement and international cooperation. This second cycle, which started last year, deals with chapters on prevention and asset recovery. Malaysia ratified the UNCAC in 2008.