What is stopping the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police from combating corruption? Why is the smuggling of contraband racket coming from foreign countries and worth billions not detected?
The recent arrest of 12 Customs officers and 12 other individuals is just the tip of the iceberg. Billions are lost in revenue in the form of unpaid excise duties by smugglers with links to our Customs personnel.
And, the RM4 billion losses over three years with just one company sums it all — that the International Transparency Index score holds water. Corruption is a serious social disease.
If left unchecked, it can undermine or derail our nation’s effort in becoming a developed and high-income nation by 2020. MACC personnel must be planted in key ministries that provide lucrative opportunities to make money, such as the awarding of contracts or in land offices where discounts on premium land are given, as reported in a case in Sabah, or in the police force, where the public had voiced out allegations that corruption is rife but little effort taken to stem it.
We have the Whistleblowers Act but how effective is it? The public are the eyes and ears of the government and can provide useful leads in the war against corruption.
Civil servants who refuse to toe the line must be removed from office and prosecuted in court. Similarly, businessmen who are givers must be charged in court for corrupt practices.
In practice, it is the environment in which public servants and private actors operate that causes corruption. Public administration is often bureaucratic and inefficient.
A large number of regulations, coupled with inadequate controls, make for a conducive environment for corruption to take place, such as tax evasion, money laundering and illegal outflow of funds.
First of all, low wages in the civil service encourages petty corruption, and the imbalance between the supply of, and demand for, public services creates opportunities for corruption.
Also, individuals tend to invest in a career in the public service, given the shortage of opportunities in the private sector, thus increasing the likelihood of their involvement in corrupt practices.
Civil society and the media can help by denouncing corruption and putting pressure on the government. But the real impediments to fighting corruption are as much the interests of the politico-administrative apparatus as the fatalism and ignorance of the victims, maintained by a culture of fear nurtured by those who benefit from corruption.
The private sector can also contribute by policing its own codes of conduct and sticking to high standards of corporate governance, and, of course, by ensuring the transparency of the projects they support. C. Sathasivam Sitheravellu, Seremban negeri Sembilan NST Letters 09 September 2015