Anti-corruption watchdog Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) wants Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to explain the gazette of the new National Security Council Act 2016 (NSC Act).
The group’s executive director Cynthia Gabriel said this and other recent trends suggests a desperate clinging to power amid the 1MDB scandal.
“While we have witnessed many disturbing trends that suggesting a desperate cling on to power, this latest move is a harbinger of the dreaded horrors that is to come for Malaysia under his reign.
“As an accountability and good governance group, C4 Center calls upon the prime minister to immediately come clean on this latest move, an unprecedented step, and a sure leap towards dictatorship,” she said in a statement today.
The new law allows the imposition of emergency-like powers through the National Security Council, which is chaired by the prime minister.
Cynthia noted that this development followed other disruptions to investigations on 1MDB and other related investigations, such as the disbandment of the special multi-agency taskforce conducting the investigations, and police raids against the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC).
She urged that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to step down if he no longer has the will to fight corruption and bring about democratic reforms.
She also questioned the non-reappointment of members of the Operations Review Panel (ORP) and the Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel (CCPP) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
She asked if this is politically motivated, given that these two panels had been critical of the handling of the investigations on 1MDB and its former subsidiary SRC International during the final days of the probe.
“The ORP entrusted to review high profile cases has been deadened, of course we remember the closing days of the previous panel who had run into controversy following the decision to close the case on the Prime Minister and the 1MDB linked SRC International scandals.
“It has never seen a delay in its operation until recently,” she said.
The CCPP had been critical of the transfer of two MACC officers to the Prime Minister’s Department, including one officer who had been leading the SRC International investigation and allegations that it had deposited RM42 million in Najib’s personal bank account.
The OPR had previously told MACC to continue investigations on SRC International and the ‘donations’ that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had received, despite attorney-general Mohd Apandi Ali instructions at the time for the case to be closed.
The panels are two out of five independent panels overseeing the MACC. The posts have been vacant since Feb 24 after the terms of its members have ended.
MACC advisory board chairperson Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim previously urged Najib to hasten with the new appointments or reappoint the previous members, as the vacancies could hamper MACC’s operations.
Cynthia pointed out that the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) had also been dealt with the same fate, with no new appoints and having been its budget severely cut.
Najib had consistently denied wrongdoing in the donation scandals, while Apandi had cleared him of wrongdoing.