I WOULD like to commend the courageous young couple who took the trouble to seek help in their predicament, which has led to the suspension and confinement to desk duties of the enforcement officers involved, pending corruption allegation investigations by the authorities, “Desk duty for two over park incident” (The Star, Aug 13).
It is a brave thing to expose corruption.
If more people followed their example instead of offering or giving in to demands for bribes as the way out of their troubles, it may help reduce the incidence of corruption.
It may be a long time before many Malaysians feel confident in taking to task dishonest and corrupt officials, by taking direct action and reporting them to the appropriate authorities.
Sadly, many Malaysians are used to taking the easy way out, for example, by offering bribes for traffic offences.
Though they would not hesitate in lamenting that corruption abounds in the country, in the public and private sectors, they do nothing to help eradicate the social disease, but instead contribute to the malaise.
Unless we all refuse to give bribes and are prepared to pay the penalty for our offences, however more costly, we should not expect society to be rid of corrupt traffic policemen, government officers and others in positions of authority – even in high places.
The role of NGOs and authorities, though different in administrative respects, is critical.
I believe the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department also made the critical difference in helping the couple. It gave them the needed support.
It emphasises once more the need for citizens to help citizens. But it will all still be to no avail if those with the real power of remedying the problem do not act, and act firmly, justly and convincingly.
In this instance, the authorities have not failed the couple and I am sure the people’s confidence would increase if justice is seen to be done.
The Government has publicly stated on many occasions that it is serious about ridding the country of corruption. It can do this in practical ways by working with NGOs and the public, and assisting them with resources and help so that whistleblowers and the public feel confident that their complaints and information they supply will be dealt with expeditiously, efficiently, professionally and confidentially.
Public authorities must be careful because wrongful, even illegal, acts by their officers will make them susceptible to lawsuits for damages. It is a matter of time before Malaysia catches up with other parts of the world and victims of wrongful actions may seek redress through the courts.
I recall some years ago when I reported ticket touts doing brisk business in an entertainment complex to a nearby police station only to discover the detective who accompanied me to investigate turned out to be in cahoots with the touts. It shattered my confidence in the police and opened my eyes to the reality of collusion between crooks and cops. If there was someone else I could have turned to, some independent authority I could trust to take proper action, I could have been reassured and taken the matter further, though it seemed a relatively trivial offence.
It is not the money that matters but the act of deception that destroys our soul and sense of civic duty.
If corruption is readily accepted as a way of life, it can only augur ill for a society. In fact, it is the way of death, and the demise of a moral and honest community. No community built on dishonesty can ever be a great community.
I know the public will feel more reassured that something has been done and common sense has prevailed.
STEVE OH, (via e-mail)
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