The prime minister has committed to tabling a constitutional amendment providing greater independence for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) "by the first (Dewan Rakyat) sitting (in) 2014".

However, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has told a bipartisan parliamentary committee, he wanted assurance that the change would enjoy two-thirds support from the House.

NONECommittee chairperson Abu Zahar Ujang (right in picture) said this would have to include support from Pakatan Rakyat MPs who control 89 of the 222 seats in the Lower House.

"Seven of us met with the PM... he is ever ready. He said (that) by (the) next session, in the first sitting of 2014, the matter will be tabled in Parliament.

"We hope all members can then likewise support it for the good of the nation," Abu Zahar told reporters at his office in Parliament House today.

If the amendment is passed, the MACC chief commissioner will be appointed by an independent services commission, and not by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the prime minister’s recommendation.

The services commission will also appoint all other MACC officers.

Committee member and PAS' Kota Bharu MP Takiyuddin Hassan said he personally feels that Pakatan Rakyat MPs will back the move as "this is what we have been fighting for".

In fact, Takiyuddin said, if Pakatan does not support it, he would resign from the committee.

Other Pakatan committee members are the DAP's Kepong MP Tan Seng Giaw and PKR senator Fauzi Abdul Rahman.

Two other amendments mooted

The proposal by the Special Committee on Corruption was included in its 28-page report submitted to Najib yesterday.

The report was based on MACC’s Annual Report 2012, published last month.

The committee also proposed that the government amends Sections 23 and 36 of the MACC Act 2009, which respectively deal with conflict of interest and excessive wealth.

azlanAbu Zahar said amending Section 36 would empower the MACC to investigate anybody suspected of corruption due to excessive wealth beyond expectations, without having to wait for a complaint to be lodged.

Admitting that Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption probes those with excessively wealth without the need for specific provisions of law, he said it was better for things to be made clear in Malaysia.

This is so that those charged with graft do not resort to technicalities to escape conviction, Abu Zahar explained.

The MACC has also pinpointed a loophole in Section 23 that is exploited by those in power to escape corruption charges.

For example, a person who excuses himself or herself from a decision-making meeting - which then awards a government contract to a family member or an associate of that person - cannot be charged with corruption.