SULTAN Sharafuddin Idris Shah’s call to fight corruption all the way and to punish severely those found guilty by the courts will certainly receive the full endorsement of all Malaysians, “‘Charge corrupt politicians’” (The Star, Aug 24).
Integrity and good moral values are essential if we are to have a clean, efficient and trustworthy administration. To achieve this objective, it is necessary to have a work culture which incorporates honesty, trust, discipline, responsibility and transparency. Civil servants must pave the way for the emergence of this culture.
Corruption has existed since the beginning of civilisations, but that doesn’t mean we should be complacent about it. Corruption attacks not only the economic and social fabric of society but also the moral foundations of order.
Above all, we must never allow corruption to be institutionalised.
It has been proven in many instances that an individual took bribes mainly because he is greedy and is presented with opportunities to commit corrupt practices. It is indisputable that greed is the motivating factor behind most, if not all, corrupt practices.
Corruption happens when individuals without moral conscience misuse their position or authority to exploit the flaws in the system for undue private gain.
Corruption in the public sector results from a structure that can be manipulated, such as a government procurement system that does not have a sound check and balance system in place.
Procurement involves a multi-step process of established procedures to acquire goods and services by any individual, company or organisation – from the initial assessment to the contract’s award and service delivery.
Without a strict internal control and monitoring system, there will always be loopholes that can be exploited by dishonest staff, including law enforcement personnel.
To eradicate such practices, departments and all law enforcement agencies should strengthen internal audit systems that can detect irregularities.
Corruption affects not only the government’s coffers, which is partly made up of taxes paid by the people and businesses, but it can also damage the public especially in terms of safety and health.
For instance, when government officials receive kickbacks for favouring a particular contractor, the building may have defects due to inferior quality of construction materials, shoddy workmanship or safety and health issues.
The government must do what it takes to ensure a clean civil service with politicians and leaders taking the lead in maintaining the public and international community’s confidence in the country.
The information age is providing citizens and non-governmental organisations with powerful tools and information to combat corruption.
Likewise, the global economy puts tremendous pressure on governments to rid themselves of factors that reduce their competitiveness. Corruption is clearly a factor that can and does reduce the attractiveness of one community over another.
The movement towards decentralisation, accountability and transparency at the local government level is gathering momentum.
In this context, the enormous costs of corruption are being explicitly recognised, as is the urgent need to correct governmental malfeasance.
I believe the inculcation of noble and ethical values accompanied by adherence to good governance is the most effective way to fight corrupt practices in the civil service.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE