CORRUPTION and power abuse have increasingly become serious problems in recent years, especially among errant civil servants who lack integrity.
From 2016 to last February, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) records show that 665 investigation papers were opened involving civil servants.
It was reported that of the total, 548 civil servants were arrested while 63 cases were brought to court.
I often raise the issue of graft as I believe that it is a cancer that will damage the government and cripple the economy if not properly addressed.
Abuse of power among civil servants is also serious and it will worsen if not tackled.
The arrests of 16 police officers and men linked to drug syndicates have proven that we need to do more to fight graft among errant police personnel and help restore public confidence in our law enforcement agency,
We need to beef up awareness on the need to fight corruption at all levels of society involving all civic-minded Malaysians.
Malaysia’s ranking in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for example, has dropped to 55th spot last year compared to 54th in 2015.
Transparency International-Malaysia president Datuk Akhbar Satar said Malaysia also recorded a score of 49 out of 100 in the CPI survey.
Compared with other Asean countries, Malaysia is ranked below Singapore (7th) and Brunei (41st) but above Indonesia (90th), Philippines (101st), Thailand (101), Vietnam (113rd), Laos (123rd), Myanmar (136th) and Cambodia (156th).
I believe that the public service must practise a work culture with good values and a zero-tolerance attitude towards corruption.
At the same time the public and businessmen must never offer bribes to civil servants and they can be penalised by the MACC for doing so. The public and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) must also do their part to fight corruption by lodging reports with the commission if they have any information on corruption and power abuse.
Based on my observation and judging from unbiased media reports , the level of integrity in the country is decreasing and it is a worrying trend. Efforts to eradicate corruption in the country must involve the enforcement of all the relevant laws and severe penalties should be meted out to serve as deterrent.
Early exposure on corruption offences and its negative impact must also be instilled among students. It should be included in the school syllabus such as the Islamic Education and Moral Education subjects.
Each agency and department must strengthen its “internal monitoring system” to detect any element of corruption in the organisation. At the same time, the authorities may use the “luxury lifestyle” as an indicator to identify those who spend more than their actual income.
Government agencies should also provide online services to help reduce red tape and interaction with the public, which can create an opportunity to ask and give bribe.
We must also support the call for high-level government servants, including Cabinet members to declare their assets directly to the MACC.
In addition, awareness on the dangers of corruption could be improved through the following measures:
i) Create a media that is free and transparent to report on corruption;
ii) Improve public access to information, particularly in rural areas;
iii) Promote discussion and discourse on issues of integrity and abuse of power;
iv) Develop higher civic consciousness in order to foster a culture of transparency, accountability and integrity among the people;
v) Encourage universities and higher education institutions to inculcate the values of integrity among students to help change their perception of corruption; and
vi) MACC must play an important role in promoting positive values at all teacher training colleges so that teachers can inculcate good values among students.
The success in our fight against corruption will not only increase revenues but will also help us improve the delivery system, boost confidence and win public support.
Therefore, we have no choice but to support an all-out war against corruption at all levels as it is actually a cancer that will slowly kill us.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation