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Parliament tonight passed the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Bill, which are one of three pieces of legislation the Abdullah Badawi administration hopes to push through before he steps down as prime minister in March. By a voice vote, the majority of lawmakers gave their support to set up a commission which will have more autonomy and power to tackle corruption.

This follows two days of robust debate which saw lawmakers from both the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) put the proposed MACC through some rigorous examination. The new law to fight corruption was passed practically unchanged tonight in the Dewan Rakyat despite the best efforts of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs.

The biggest argument from the PR lawmakers concerned putting the power of prosecution in the hands of one man, the Attorney General (AG). The Opposition Leader told Parliament the AG is not compelled by any law to report to a higher authority. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim added it could lead to all sorts of abuses.

However, the de facto Law Minister defended the government’s move, saying that the term referred not only to the individual holding the post but also the entire office of the public prosecutor. Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz added that a deputy public prosecutor from the AG’s office would also be moved to help the MACC. But the PR MPs continued to challenge Nazri’s view at every step of the way, despite the rare presence of both the Prime Minister and his deputy inside the House.

Each time a section of the law to do with the powers of the AG or limiting the authority of the MACC chief and its members was raised for debate, several MPs from the DAP, PKR and Pas would be on their feet ready to battle, even before the parliamentary official finished reading it aloud.


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