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Witness Protection Bill to be tabled soon

KUALA LUMPUR, 4 Nov 2008: The Witness Protection Bill which gives protection for people who provide information to the authorities, including the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), will be tabled during this parliament session.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said currently informants were provided protection under Section 53 of the Anti-Corruption Act.

He said a new Act for witness protection was needed as the existing law only provided for non-disclosure of the informants and protection of their identity up to the time when they were required for the accused to be prosecuted in court.

“Therefore, the government needed to draw up a Witness Protection Act to protect the informants who will testify in court. If there is no problem, the Bill will be tabled at this (parliament) session and hopefully, it will be passed,” he said in reply to a question from Datuk Chua Soon Bui (Independent-Tawau).

Chua wanted to know how much protection the ACA could give to its informants so as to encourage more people to come forward with information, and the new policy or strategy of the government to prevent corruption and power abuse in the public sector, statutory bodies and government-linked companies.

Nazri said besides increasing the staff number to 5,000 for the ACA, the government would also turn the agency into a commission to give it full powers and independence in carrying out its tasks.

“For instance, it will have the power to recruit staff without asking for approval from the Public Service Department for the posts created.

“This can be done after the Anti-Corruption Commission Bill is tabled and passed at this session,” said the de facto law minister.

To a supplementary question from Ismail Kasim (BN-Arau) on the ACA’s efforts to ensure quality investigations to facilitate prosecution, Nazi said the government would endeavour to make prosecution involving corruption cases a field of specialisation for some of the ACA officers.

“Although the ACA is not directly involved in the prosecution process, it can assist in this area through quality investigations, hence enabling more of those involved in corruption to be prosecuted in court,” he said. — Bernama


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