I REFER to the report “IPCMC will finally be set up” (The Star, Sept 22) on the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). The report also mentioned that the Public Complaints Bureau (PCB) would soon be replaced by Ombudsman Malaysia.
This change augurs well for the new Malaysia as people’s expectations have risen for greater transparency and accountability. The ombudsman will be empowered by the Ombudsman Act, which is expected to be tabled in Parliament soon, to play a more effective role in addressing and redressing a wide range of public complaints.
The ombudsman chosen should be an accomplished and capable office holder supported by competent and experienced multi-racial staff because the scope of duties and responsibilities will be wide and diverse.
The PCB was hamstrung by its limited terms of reference, resulting in many public complaints being resolved unsatisfactorily.
In some countries, the power and authority of the ombudsman have gradually increased as a result of changes initiated by their governments after they realised the important role it was playing as middleman between the people and the administration.
I hope our ombudsman will be empowered to deal not only with public and quasi-government departments but also the private sector. At a time when the bond between our elected representatives and the people is wearing thin, the services of the ombudsman would be crucial to citizens.
The ombudsman would also be able to protect individuals and groups from government action that favour vested interests.
A lot of government officers, especially those in higher positions, have been able to do what they like knowing that the PCB and the complainants are hamstrung and cannot undo decisions that have already been made. All these could change with the introduction of the ombudsman. It could lead to less corruption, abuse of authority and power, unreasonableness, biased decisions, bureaucratic delay and red tape; lack of transparency and accountability; wastage of money and a host of other shortcomings in the government administration.
To be more effective, the ombudsman should also be authorised to deal with complaints on housing, healthcare, education and financial matters. The ombudsman would surely be a democratic vent to an increasingly complaining and discontented Malaysian public.
I would like to express my gratitude to the PCB which has assisted me to address a large array of community and social complaints for the last 30 years. It was extremely effective in dealing with my complaints and has played a big role in solving numerous problems in Sungai Buloh.
I do feel sad that it has to go but I hope to see the diligent and caring officers back in the Ombudsman Office.
Sungai Buloh, Selangor