TOGETHER with Michael Polanyi, Chester Barnard is regarded as one of the founders of knowledge management. The latter’s seminal book, The Functions of the Executive, is considered as one of the most influential management books of the 20th century.According to Barnard, an organisation is, in essence, nothing more than an established way of cooperation between two or more individuals. An institution, on the other hand, is a particular category of organisations.What sets an organisation apart as an institution is its pursuit of aims that are widely considered to fulfil a societal need, its reliable performance over time, and its exemplary conduct as perceived by societal constituencies. [Arjen Boin, Lauren A. Fahy, and Paul ‘t Hart (ed), Guardians of Public Value: How Public Organizations Become and Remain Institutions (Palgrave 2021)]So, Cambridge University is not just a university. It is an institution. And so are the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).All three are institutions for having and exhibiting these three criteria:Distinct identity and unique competenceStrong reputation, high legitimacyEnduring viability through adaptationAccording to Boin, Fahy and Hart, institutions are never born as “institutions”. “They become institutions.” One of which is much closer to home than the three above: Singapore’s Corrupt Practice Investigation Bureau (CPIB).The CPIB’s citation as an institution is in the following words:“Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau was established in 1952 to battle the rife corruption present in all sectors of the public service, where bribes, favours and nepotism were fundamental norms of ‘doing business’.The Bureau had to earn its stripes fighting corruption among the country’s most powerful individuals, both in the police force and in the parliament. Through a record of successful actions against corrupt individuals, the agency gradually developed substantial authority to investigate any case in which corruption may be involved. The Bureau has been a driving force in making Singapore one of the least corrupt nations on earth.”The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should be alerted to Guardians of Public Value (2021), which is an open access publication and has been available online since November 2020. The institutionalization of CPIB is in Chapter 3 and written by Zeger van der Wal. It is a must read for the MACC.Van der Wal writes of the CPIB’s ‘total enforcement approach’ by which the CPIB investigates big as well as small corruption cases in both public- and the private-sector organizations, involving both givers and receivers of bribes and other crimes uncovered in the course of the corruption investigation. [See also Soh, K. H. (2008, May 17–18). Corruption Enforcement Paper presented at the Second Seminar of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Associations, Chongqing, China]The total approach in investigation is the magical formula and is explained by a former director of CPIB, Soh Kee Hean (now an Associate Professor at the School of Humanities and Behavioural Science, SUSS) as follows:“[W]hat is the magical formula to effectively investigate corruption offences? In order to achieve this mission, we approach it through a framework of action, which involves four inextricably linked competencies, that is intelligence, interview, forensics and field operations. The success of solving corruption cases hinges on the interplay of these competencies.”‘Intelligence’ is explained as follows:“Intelligence work is critical in the current landscape of constant threats and vulnerabilities. It involves the collation and processing of information for specific objectives, so you can say that intelligence work is really a discreet form of investigation. Intelligence work often provides the basis for successful investigation. A proactive approach can enhance the success of major operations and effectiveness of investigations.”“Our Intelligence Division adopts both a strategic and tactical stance – we have projects which are intelligence-led operations where our Intelligence Division leads efforts in collation, analysis and pointing out the direction and leads for investigation to follow.We also have cases where Intelligence Division plays a supporting role to our Operations Units in their investigations by providing critical information such as establishing identities, relationships and locations etc during the pre-operation and operations phase.”The above informs us that an anti-corruption agency (ACA) does not have to rely on reports and complaints to commence investigation of corruption offences.The powers to investigate are provided in the MACC and is wide enough to include where there is “reason to suspect the commission of an offence under the [MACC Act 2009] following “information otherwise received” by way of a report to the MACC, orally or in writing.So, while a duty is imposed under section 25(1) of the MACC Act 2009 on a person “to whom any gratification is given, promised, or offered” to report such gift, promise of offer to the MACC or the police, the power to investigate and enquire is also provided under section 29(3) of the same Act to investigate if there is reason to suspect the commission of an offence following a news report – like the news report of Sekijang MP, Natrah Ismail who claimed two people approached her on March 3 asking her to support Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. The Sekijang MP said the two told her her constituency would benefit if she switched parties.A Malay saying quickly comes to mind to describe the two people’s approach to Natrah: “Datang tak diundang, pulang tak dihantar.” The two people had come uninvited and left unattended or unrequested.The MACC investigation officer could do the same – if the MACC is the guardian of public integrity.A proactive MACC, in due time, will become an institution too. – March 7, 2021.*Hafiz Hassan reads The Malaysian Insight. * This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.
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