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Monday April 10, 2006

Ombudsman to tackle all grouses against authorities


ALOR STAR: The Government plans to set up an ombudsman to investigate complaints against the authorities, including ministers and the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA). 

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz said the Attorney-General’s Chambers was conducting a study on the establishment of the independent body. 

“Once the study is completed, we will table the proposal in Parliament for ratification,” he said, adding  

that the process would require some time. 

The A-G's Chambers, he said, was looking into all aspects of setting up the body, including the appointment and empowerment of its members as well as the legal implications. 

“We want this body to be more effective than existing commissions,” he told newsmen yesterday after briefing government officers and community leaders in the Kota Star district on current issues and the Ninth Malaysia Plan at SMK Hutan Kampung here. 

An ombudsman is a government appointee who investigates complaints by private persons against the Government. 

Referring to the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), Nazri said it was not fair to only target the police. 

“There have been lots of complaints against others in the public sector but no investigations have been carried out. 

“Therefore, we must come up with a body to investigate figures of authority, agencies and departments, including the ACA, Customs Department, JPJ (Road Transport Department) and Land and Mines Office as well as elected representatives,” he said. 

The setting up of the ombudsman would enhance public confidence in the Government, he said. 

In Petaling Jaya, Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang welcomed the move but said it should not be an excuse to “kill off” plans for the IPCMC, reports ZULKIFLI ABD RAHMAN. 

The proposed body to investigate complaints against all government agencies and ministers should be truly independent and free of interference from any party, he added. 

“A proper study of the mechanism of the ombudsman should be made and revealed to the public,” he said yesterday. 

Bar Council chairman Yeo Yang Poh said the body should have enough regulatory powers as it would have to deal with many issues affecting government agencies. 

“If the legal structure of the ombudsman is diluted, then it will be inadequate. The ombudsman should be able to reach a real solution to the issues at hand,” he said.  

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