SIBU: The government’s decision to set up the Ombudsman Malaysia and Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is a progressive move for the nation, Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye opined.
He said he believed that the setting up of the ombudsman system will be a step in the right direction to address all public grievances against all departments and agencies.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has announced that the Public Complaints Bureau will be known and function as Ombudsman Malaysia.
“An Ombudsman Act would be drafted to ensure a more effective management of public complaints in Malaysia,” he added.
Lee noted that the Cabinet has also agreed to turn the Integrity Commission (EAIC) into IPCMC which will act as an independent monitoring body that is more holistic.
“It is a timely move to address public grievances against any public authority in line with the new government’s emphasis on improving service delivery and fighting corruption in the interest of the public.
“I hope more efforts could be made to reduce bureaucratic red tape and improve administrative efficiency in all government departments and agencies,” Lee said in a media statement.
He observed that almost all developed countries have an Ombudsman.
“In Australia, it helps investigate the government, public schemes, private education providers and private health insurance while in New Zeland, it protects the rights of whistleblowers, monitors detention camps and disability conventions.
“It also investigates complaints against state agencies and initiates investigations,” Lee noted.
He added: “In Sweden or New Zealand, ombudsmen are government officials appointed to receive and investigate complaints made by individuals against abuses or capricious acts of public officials.
“In the early 70’s, Malaysia had wanted to consider such a system and had in fact studied the New Zealand ombudsman model with a view towards its implementation.
“However, it was shelved and in its place the Public Complaints Bureau was set up.”
He recalled that the idea to set up Ombudsman was again highlighted during the era of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he was prime minister from 2003 to 2009 but it did not materialize.
“I am happy that the past proposals are bearing fruit as we need both the Ombudsman and IPCMC which I have been advocating for many years.
“These reforms will help improve the image of the country as complaints will be handled by an independent body,” he suggested.
He pointed out that under the existing system in other countries, the ombudsmen could either be appointed by the government or parliament.
“We are looking forward to see how this system could be implemented to bring about the institutional reforms which should make all our government institutions truly independent and professional to serve the desired objectives,” Lee said.
Ombudsman is derived from the Swedish word meaning ‘grievance person’ or ‘representative or agent of the people’.