EAIC says recommended punishments not always followed

Source: The Malay Mail Online

EAIC chief Datuk Yaacob Md Sam — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa
EAIC chief Datuk Yaacob Md Sam — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — The Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC) has complained that although no disciplinary body has ever challenged its recommendations for disciplinary action, there were times when rogue officers facing punishment were let off with a mere slap on the wrist.

EAIC chief Datuk Yaacob Md Sam said the oversight commission typically leaves it to the disciplinary boards to exercise their discretion in meting out the appropriate punishment after taking into account the mitigating factors — which the EAIC itself has no benefit of hearing.

“The only thing we are concerned about is that too lenient punishment is sometimes being imposed,” he was quoted as saying in an interview by local daily The Star.

“For example, when we have recommended a six-month suspension of the officer’s emolument (salary and allowances) — which will affect your seniority, be recorded in your file and affect your chances for a promotion — they come back and say they are only cautioning the officer!” he said, adding that such overly-lenient punishments would not serve as a deterrent to other officers.

Noting the EAIC members’ concern over such lenient punishments that “differ too far from the Commission’s recommendation”, Yaacob said they had in March written to the Chief Secretary of the Government to express their displeasure.

The Cabinet had last July told the Chief Secretary to issue a circular directing the head of all disciplinary boards to inform the EAIC of disciplinary action taken, Yaacob said.

He said the EAIC had also requested for proposed amendments to the EAIC Act to make it mandatory for the commission to be notified of disciplinary action taken.

According to Yaacob, 66 recommendations for various disciplinary actions on government officers have been made by the EAIC after going through 50 investigation papers during the period of 2012 to April 2016.

EAIC statistics during this time showed that there were five cases where no further action was taken by the respective disciplinary authorities, nine where a caution letter was issued, seven where a warning letter was issued, two where a day’s pay was docked, and one where a fine of RM150 was imposed.

As for the other 42 cases out of the 66 recommendations, the disciplinary authorities are still in the process of taking action, the data published by The Starshowed.

Yaacob acknowledged the negative perception of the EAIC, noting that the public feels the commission lacks the power to punish wrongdoers, while government officers feel that the commission was formed to find fault with them.

But Yaacob said the situation has changed tremendously for the commission, which had only opened one investigation paper and made one recommendation to a disciplinary authority in 2012.

“Previously, we didn’t have enough investigation officers. Now we are almost at full capacity. We have 78 posts, of which 72 have been filled. The balance of six open posts are to be filled by officers seconded from MACC and AGC,” he said.

He also spoke of the advantage that the EAIC currently has with officers who know about court procedures and the applicable laws as well as taking statements, noting that 12 of the officers handling complaints and investigations were previously lawyers and a total of 28 officers hold law degrees.

Yaacob spoke of the challenge that the EAIC faced with complainants who sometimes withdrew their complaints midway through its investigations, which he said meant the EAIC would only be able to recommend ways to strengthen an agency’s procedures instead of disciplinary action.


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