RECOMMENDATIONS IGNORED: Many dept heads not acting against errant civil servants
KUALA LUMPUR: CORRUPT civil servants remain in service and qualify for promotions because their heads of department refuse to take action for fear of tarnishing their image and that of their departments.
The New Straits Times has learnt that of the 1,026 civil servants who had investigation papers opened against them for graft by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (figures from 2009), only 380 appeared before their departments’ disciplinary boards.
MACC had probed into all these employees, but because of reasons such as technical flaws and issues of witnesses, it could only recommend to their department heads for action to be taken against them.
Under the process, MACC would alert department heads to their subordinates’ corrupt behaviour and give recommendations for action. The department heads would refer the recommendations to the departments’ disciplinary boards, which would conduct their own investigations before taking action. However, some department heads have swept the matter under the carpet to protect their image and their departments’ key performance index.
Departments that are notified of the recommendation for disciplinary action have six months to revert to MACC on the action they have taken against corrupt employees. However, records obtained by NST showed poor response from the department heads as deadlines to take action had long passed. And, of the 380 cases looked at, the majority of these offenders were only issued warning letters.
A source told the NST that warning letters were a slap on the employees' wrist as they could still be considered for promotions or receive excellent service awards.
When MACC sent out 235 letters recommending disciplinary action in 2009, the 182 reports that came back to it mostly said warning letters had been issued.
The years 2010 and 2011 saw a spike in the number of such cases but fewer responses from the departments.
Out of the 350 cases in 2010, only 153 came back with responses. Last year, it received only 39 responses from the 315 letters it issued.
This year, until last month, it sent out 126 letters but had received only six responses.
A source said: "They should have been suspended, demoted, transferred, asked to pay back every single sen they took, have their movements frozen or even sacked, as provided for under the service's general orders. However, they have been let off scot-free."
The source said MACC's hands were tied as it was not authorised to compel the departments to follow up on their recommendations.
However, it is understood MACC had sent reminders to the departments to act on its recommendations.
Malaysian Institute of Integrity president Datuk Dr Mohd Tap Salleh expressed concern about the inaction of these department heads.
Tap, in wanting to lend support to MACC in ridding the service of corrupt employees, asked the NST for figures of such cases.
He said he would refer the matter to the chief secretary to the government.
MACC deputy chief commissioner (prevention) Datuk Sutinah Sutan said it expected department heads to take its recommendations seriously and act on them quickly, after they had concluded their inquiries.
"There is no excuse not to act on them.
"While there may be cases where the employees concerned have moved on to another department by the time their superiors get our recommendations, they must revert to MACC so that the problems can be resolved.
"They (department heads) must be reminded that under government regulations, if they fail to take action against their employees when asked to, action can be taken against them."
Note: Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement. Corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and human trafficking, though is not restricted to these activities.
FARRAH NAZ KARIM | email@example.com New Straits Times Online General August 27 2012