‘Corruption in Malaysia has become big business’

Former Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador, had in March, said senior ranking officers within the police force were corrupt.

The damning revelation, however, came as no surprise, given there had been an increasing number of police officers being nabbed for their involvement in crime.

Corruption among enforcement personnel in recent times does not just affect the police alone.

Last month, Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said two Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers, including an assistant commissioner, was nabbed on suspicion of being linked to fugitive businessman Nicky Liow.

The two were arrested with 10 policemen – two from the Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department and Integrity and Standard Compliance Department, four from the Selangor police headquarters, including a station chief in the Ampang Jaya district, two from the Sentul district headquarters, and one each from the Negeri Sembilan headquarters and Melaka Tengah district headquarters.

Criminologist Datuk P. Sundramoorthy said the current trend of enforcement officers and civil servants involved in corruption was worrying.

“Just look at the recent arrest of the Datuk (believed to be the ringleader of a cartel behind 150 companies) who allegedly relied on help from insiders in government departments and agencies to secure government contracts worth RM3.6 billion since 2014,” said Sundramoorthy, an honorary associate professor with Universiti Sains Malaysia.

“Isn’t this mind-boggling?

“Corruption is an epidemic in Malaysia, and I disagree with those who claim otherwise. The current trend also suggests it is becoming big business.”

“With the rising number of uniformed personnel being detained, those in authority can no longer claim corruption in the force is a case of a few bad apples. It is serious and is happening within the corridors of enforcement agencies,” he added.

Malaysia dropped six spots from 51 to 57, out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020.

The CPI is the leading global indicator of public sector corruption. It offers an annual insight into the relative degree of corruption worldwide.

The data sourced to compile the CPI index includes certain aspects of public sector corruption, including bribery, nepotism in the civil service, use of public office for private gain, the government’s ability to enforce integrity mechanisms and effective prosecution of corrupt officials.

Sundramoorthy said low income alone is not the main reason for corruption. Other contributing factors, he said, include organisations’ policies, bureaucracy, red tape and the hesitancy to lodge a report.

“In the civil service, tindakan tatatertib (disciplinary action) is often taken against wrongdoers. This must stop. If they are involved in corruption, they should be charged with abetting, and not just transferred to another department,” he said.

“The days of tindakan tatatertib must come to an end. The notion that it is difficult to terminate the services of these people must also stop. We can’t say ‘we’ll let this slide as it’s a one-off case’.”

Sundramoorthy said it was time the country’s top leadership made eradicating corruption a national agenda.

“We must look at corruption beyond bribery. Nepotism and cronyism are also abuse of authority and they are intertwined with corruption.

“If we continue to say corruption in the public service is just a case of a few rotten apples, we will be damaging our government departments and machinery.”

MACC, according to Sundramoorthy, must also work together with civil society to address the issue of corruption.

“Many seem to have given up. But I believe there are still those who are committed to weeding out graft and the MACC must work with civil society to combat corruption.

“More importantly, the leadership of the nation plays a huge role in setting policies and charting the direction to ensure changes are brought about so that corruption does not prevail,” he added.