ACA adopting proactive stance on corruption


  • Letters
  • Friday, 10 Jan 2003

THE Anti-Corruption Agency is taking its fight against malpractice and abuse of power to another level with its intention to investigate reports posted on the Internet. 

This is a proactive decision and a step in the right direction to reduce such offences.  

It should not wait for a report to be made before it opens a file to look into the complaint. 

This is the normal practice adopted by the enforcement agencies before their officers will act.  

This is a rather outdated approach – they should be prepared to look into complaints of corruption from other sources, such as the media or even “flying letters”. 

Does it mean that just because no official complaint has been lodged with their agencies then such offences are not being committed?  

The public has always been puzzled by such an attitude. 

The people expect either the police, the ACA, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and the local councils to look into all the complaints highlighted in the media. 

The enforcement agencies, therefore, should be on their toes and look into such reports either officially or unofficially so that at least they will know the true situation. 

Should there be any truth, then the matter should be investigated further and appropriate action taken against the culprits or at least nip the problem in the bud before it becomes more serious. 

But it will involve a lot of work for the ACA if it is to initiate its own action to verify allegations appearing on the Internet. 

But if it has the manpower, there is no harm in carrying out this task. 

It must also be remembered that many people are not prepared to make an official report against the offenders for their own personal reasons. 

They may be afraid of the repercussion as the people they name can find out their identity. 

Their jobs, businesses and even their personal safety could be compromised and they are therefore not prepared to take the risk of being involved officially. 

This is especially so when the accused is an influential individual.  

So those with a grievance prefer the safety of anonymity where they can expose the offenders without being directly implicated in such cases. 

The enforcement agencies must understand and appreciate such sensitivities and so should not expect the informers to come out into the open in every case. 

Businessmen would not want to be blacklisted by any government department for blowing the whistle on any errant civil servant. 

The culprit may be convicted but his colleagues are unlikely to forgive the complainant who is going to be treated like a pariah in future. 

Of course, there is always the possibility of abuse by some disgruntled individuals who may make use of the Internet and other unofficial sources to tarnish the reputation of certain people. 

But this does not mean that unofficial complaints are not useful sources of information for the ACA or other agencies to act on.  

By being active on the ground and initiating its own investigations, the ACA can play a major role in reducing corruption and abuse of power among politicians, civil servants and members of the public.  

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