Here’s what state govts can do to combat graft

SEREMBAN: State governments should set up their own ombudsman system to help authorities effectively fight corruption and better manage public complaints, says Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed (pic).

The National Governance, Integrity, and Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) director-general said although a Bill on the establishment of an ombudsman will likely be tabled in Parliament in November, the legislation will only have jurisdiction over federal departments and agencies and not those in the states.

"We are now finalising the bill with the Attorney General’s office and hope this will be tabled by November.

"But to fight corruption more effectively, I would like to suggest that state governments also come up with similar legislation that will cover state departments and agencies," he told reporters after witnessing the launch of the Negri Sembilan Anti-Corruption Plan 2020-2024 here by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun.

The Federal Government had in 2018 decided to set up Ombudsman Malaysia to replace the Public Complaints Bureau in an effort to check corruption.

This was to ensure federal government employees did not engage in wrongdoing or got involved in corruption.

Abu Kassim said there was a need to set up the ombudsman system in the due to the high number of public complaints, with the bulk made against local councils.

"If you have an ombudsman system in the state, there will be more transparency in work processes and this can reduce corruption.

"The business community, for example, needs to know how long a process for a particular application takes.

"We cannot allow employees to operate as they wish or to interpret things in their own way," he said, adding that the GIACC was prepared to assist state governments to draft the needed legislation.

In his speech earlier, Abu Kassim expressed hope that other state governments would also emulate the Negri Sembilan government in coming up with an effective plan to combat corruption.

He said Negri Sembilan was the first state in the peninsula to have come up with a comprehensive document outlining measures to fight the menace.

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