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Published: Saturday March 20, 2010 MYT 1:41:00 PM

Low salary, high costs of living not reason for corruption

PUTRAJAYA: Low salary scales and high cost of living are not the main factor for corruption among the support group in the civil service, according to a survey by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

On the contrary, corruption is caused by individuals' own weaknesses such as greed and having the desire to live in wealth and luxury despite not having the means to attain them.

Internal shortcomings in an organisation such as weak leadership, opaque system and procedure, the existence of bureaucratic red tapes and extensive discretionary powers open up the opportunities for corruption.

Is corruption on the rise among civil servants?

MACC corporate communications director Datuk Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya said there was a decline in the number of corruption involving the group in 2007, 2008 and last year.

This, he said, showed that the level of integrity and awareness among civil servants on the scourge of corruption and their responsibility in battling corruption were on the increase.

In 2007, a total of 591 people were arrested for corruption. Of the total, 51% or 303 were members of the civil service.

The number decreased to 282 civil servants or 47% of the total number of arrests of 605 in 2008.

There was a sharp decline last year when only 194 or 39 per cent of 500 people arrested were civil servants.

Statistics also showed that the number of corruption charges against civil servants were on the decline in the past three years.

In 2007, 133 charges were brought against civil servants. The number went down to 104 in 2008 and further declined to 90 last year.

Among the reasons for this were the success of programmes introduced by the government and awareness campaign by MACC community education division.

The implementation of corruption prevention modules in induction courses, promotion of officers and the introduction of government policies including on public delivery system and the setting up of Good Governance Committee contributed to the better figure.

Following an increase in awareness, members of the civil service were becoming more forthcoming in reporting offer of bribes, leading to the arrest of bribe givers, Ahmad Khusairi said.

For instance, he said, in 2007, a total of 89 civil servants came forward to report bribe offers. In 2008 and last year respectively, there were 81 and 79 officers who reported attempts to bribe them.

Ahmad Khusairi said between January and this month this year, 14 civil servants came forward to report bribery attempts.

"This is an encouraging trend. Integrity, which the government is trying to imbibe among the civil servants, is becoming a reality," he said.

In line with this development, he said, the MACC would carry out a massive anti-corruption campaign to nab those who tried to bribe civil servants.

Civil servants would also be constantly reminded of their obligation to report corruption under Section 25(1) of the MACC Act, failing which they could be fined up to RM100,000 or jail not more than 10 years or both upon conviction, Ahmad Khusairi said.

He warned the public not to attempt to bribe civil servants.

"The law will come down hard on them, including a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount of bribe or RM10,000 whichever is higher," he said. - BERNAMA

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