PETALING JAYA, 20 Jan 2009: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)’s recent inaction over a RM300 “gift” to journalists covering the Kuala Terengganu by-election does not bode well for reforms towards a corrupt-free society, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) said.
“This reflects the lack of initiative on the part of the MACC to respond to what is clearly an attempt to bribe journalists covering the by-election,” said CIJ executive director Gayathry Venkiteswaran, in a press statement today.
“Are we to accept this excuse from an agency that is to undertake a huge task of investigating corruption?” she added, noting that such an approach made a mockery of prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s promised reforms to tackle corruption.
The CIJ called for an investigation by the Election Commission, the police and the MACC to identify the perpetrators, and for action to be taken immediately.
The media freedom advocacy group was weighing in on the MACC’s decision not to investigate the case of a media centre staff who offered RM300 cash to journalists covering the Kuala Terengganu by-election.
The money, in a white envelope containing six RM50 bills, was distributed to more than a dozen journalists at the state information department’s media centre. The MACC said it would not investigate the matter, as “reporters who said they received the money at a media centre there could not identify the giver.”
However, police reports lodged by two journalists from online news outfit Merdeka Review contained the name of the officer in question.
In October 2008, information minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek boasted that there was no “envelope journalism” in Malaysia, where reporters and editor are paid to highlight certain stories.
“How ironic that the alleged bribery over the weekend has taken place within the state information department’s media centre,” Gayathry quipped.