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Breaking free

  • The true significance of the restructuring lies with some of the key agencies like MACC and EC which will now have to report to the Parliament directly.

Sin Chew Daily

Taking MACC and EC out of executive jurisdiction and making them directly answerable to the Parliament is in line with the principle of democratic politics, and marks an important milestone towards good governance.

The new Pakatan Harapan government has initiated a number of administrative reforms since it was installed less than two months ago. In the latest move, several government agencies once under the Prime Minister's Department, will now operate independently and be made answerable to the Parliament only, including the MACC, election commission, Suhakam, the AG's Chambers and five others.

Such a restructuring exercise has not only helped streamline the excessively bloated Prime Minister's Department, but also allowed some key government agencies to carry out their jobs independently and effectively.

A bloated PMD has been a subject of public criticism for years. Under the restructuring exercise, only about 40 of the original 98 agencies under the PMD will remain, allowing the PMD to focus on its core functions while re-delegating the powers to other appropriate ministries to ensure smoother operation and efficiency.

The true significance of the restructuring lies with some of the key agencies like MACC and EC which will now have to report to the Parliament directly.

Subjecting them to executive power has hurt the credibility of these agencies. For example, MACC has failed to round up the "big fish" in its past anti-corruption operations.

Last year, the country's corruption perception index (CPI) ranking plunged by seven places to an all-time low of 62nd, among 180 countries and territories studied. This underscores the urgency to seriously reform MACC.

Giving MACC a free hand is one vital step in its reform. The agency will now be able to operate independently outside the intervention of the executive branch to fight corruption and steer the country towards a clean and incorrupt society.

In addition, this will also help MACC rebuild its credibility and restore public confidence.

The same goes with the EC, which has in the past been widely perceived as lacking in impartiality and neutrality.

As a matter of fact, it is very difficult for the EC to act impartially if it is put under the PMD. And with the agency now answerable only to the Parliament, it will be able to carry out its duties freely and be subjected to the scrutiny of elected representatives from both sides of the political divide.

Due to the excessive powers of the executive branch in the past, government agencies like MACC and EC had to operate under the immense shadows of the government. It is hoped that these agencies will now carry out their works more effectively on a brand new platform and build up their reputation and reverse their erstwhile poor public perception for the good of our nation.

 

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