Crackdown on corruption

The DBKL-run crematorium in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. — filepic

THE past 12 months have seen the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) cracking down on corruption throughout the country, and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has not been spared.

In MACC’s probe into the abuse of power and misappropriation of funds by government officials, two cases associated with City Hall came to light.

On Aug 15, while Malaysians were gearing up for the National Day celebration, a senior DBKL officer was arrested at his office at 3pm.

Apparently, red flags were raised after the senior officer allegedly accepted a bribe for his wife in the form of a shophouse worth RM930,000, as well as obtained eight condominium units worth RM1.9mil without consideration.

The bribery charge came under Section 17(a) of the MACC Act, which carries a maximum 20-year jail term and a fine of no less than five times the bribe amount upon conviction.

Eight charges were made under Section 165 of the Penal Code for the condominiums, and carry a sentence of up to two years in jail or a fine if convicted.

The accused also faced charges under the Anti-Money Laundering Act for accepting RM1.65mil for illegal activities, carrying a maximum jail term of 10 years or a RM5mil fine, or both.

DBKL suspended him pending court proceedings.

The arrest of a high-ranking City Hall officer based on corruption allegations took many people by surprise. — filepic
The arrest of a high-ranking City Hall officer based on corruption allegations took many people by surprise.-filepic

Then on Sept 5, another set of claims of misconduct surfaced concerning a senior official from City Hall’s Engineering Mechanical and Electrical Department.

Flouting standard operating procedures (SOP), the officer awarded two multi-million ringgit contracts relating to the DBKL-run crematorium in Cheras between 2015 and 2016, bypassing the approval from the department director.

The contracts involved inflated maintenance charges of 1,500% based on market rate, and the purchase of six additional cremation burners for RM10mil despite the crematorium being underutilised.

Reacting to this, Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz said DBKL officers and staff would have to declare their assets from now on.

He also explained that the SOP before a contract could be tendered out, was to get the department director to sign off on the contract, which would then go to the tender board for evaluation.

He also said the senior civil servant’s actions were “not really a big mistake”.

“However, at the DBKL level, we felt that a strong message had to be sent to all staff that we do not condone such blatant abuse of process,” he said.

The officer in question was demoted from Grade 52 to Grade 48, fined one day’s salary and put on administrative duties for a year.

“As for allegations of abuse of power and corruption, the case is now with the Federal Territory branch of the MACC and we will leave it to them to investigate,” said Amin Nordin.

A special collaborative task force between DBKL and MACC headed by MACC director of investigations Datuk Azam Baki was set up to question several government officers over allegations for abuse of power and misappropriation of funds.

It also will oversee land development in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the management of private housing projects.

Land development is indeed a growing concern.

In a letter published in the newspapers recently, a Kuala Lumpur resident stated:

“Looking back at media reports, there have been, in recent years, public disquiet about how land is developed in Kuala Lumpur.

“The need to now have an oversight in how land development is managed implies that this was either missing or abused in the past,” the letter said.

Public opinion on the matter shows that people are dissatisfied with what is seen as a slap on the wrist for the senior official.

In a piece which compiled opinions on the issue published on Dec 6 titled, “Penalty too light, say public”, some believed DBKL was still sending out the wrong signals to its employees.

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