Side Views

Safety and accountability – Hafizuddin Amir Dato’ Hasim

The last few months have really tested the government’s ability to govern a nation with a small margin. It also shows the importance of having a strong central government balanced by a responsible opposition.

A series of issues started when the government decided to reduce subsidies on petrol price that also meant a price hike, and then followed by the cigarette price hike, the controversy of the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) and the Auditor General's Report.

The mood now is aggression. But what is more important is how the relevant ministers respond to this aggression directed towards them.

The first issue is the amendment of the PCA, on which I do not see any reason why the opposition and its supporters are so terrified. Have they read the contents of the amendment? Have they not compared?

The amendment and PCA itself are intended for hardcore criminals, not hardcore politicians, unless they are involved in crime. How to guarantee this ?

Take a look at the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, or Sosma. You do not see politicians being detained. The police through the Inspector General have complained that the force do not have enough tool to deal with organised crime, besides lacking manpower. This happened due to the repeal of the Restricted Resident Act and the Internal Security Act.

I see that their main fear is that detention without trial, which is synonym to ISA, is back. But besides PCA being only for criminals, its detention order is not under the Minister of Home Affairs, unlike ISA. This new amendment will have an Advisory Board made up by senior judges who will advise on the detention, and the High Court shall have the final say.

One of the reasons for this amendment is to make the law applicable to Sabah and Sarawak, unlike the case previously. This means the police have more territorial power over the criminals. This amendment is merely for deterrence and prevention as the current state is just retribution.

All in all, PCA is about being able to nab the wrongdoer before they could strike. They are the ones who should be more worried with this amendment, not politicians. The amendment will no doubt create a safer and more secured environment but only if it is enforced appropriately without fear and favour.

The force should make strengthening their resources, manpower and accountability as a continuous agenda because tougher laws do not guarantee tougher enforcement.

On the Auditor General's Report, finger was pointed to few ministries over financial misconduct and wastages, and this is an area the government should take things more seriously as well as respond accordingly.

This is also an area where the people become judgmental of the government and looking at the report, they are right in doing so.

If the government is serious about transformation and implementing the agenda of the ETP, GTP and so on, they cannot afford not to address this and, most importantly, to eradicate it. Politicians running the state government and federal government administrations must make corruption eradication and accountable administration as paramount.

Considering the people's expectation, being able to respond factually and maturely is as important as developing the nation. Plus, the opposition should not feel too comfortable about this since some misconduct in their state government companies, subsidiaries and agencies have also been proven.

Perhaps a crisis management unit led by experts – experienced and independent ones – should be set up in all agencies, departments and ministries to deal with this global problem, especially in the implementation and monitoring part. But it seems a few ministries and authorities have responded to the report and we must be fair by assessing both sides of the story.

In a nutshell, Malaysians have voted for their representatives and are hopeful for the betterment of themselves, their families and their nation, besides having their own roles to play. - October 5, 2013.

* The writer is a law student at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.


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