Relentless pursuit of the corrupt is the only way to weed out corruption. This is looking more and more to be the modus operandi of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as it picks up speed. In the run-up to the New Year, its investigations culminated in an astounding discovery of senior civil servants caught red-handed with cash totalling hundreds of millions and other valuables, including land and real estate. Then, 2017 opened with a bang: the secretary-general, no less, of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry was remanded in custody with his sons. The stash here, so far, amounts to some RM6 million in cash, gold bars and all manner of luxury items. MACC is still investigating. More recently, the former chief executive officer and managing director of Tekun Nasional was caught allegedly soliciting and receiving a bribe. He has been arrested. Even as this is being written, MACC is off to Malacca to interview the chief minister regarding another case that is being investigated. At the rate MACC is going, one certainly cannot accuse it of selective prosecution.
The pace is aggressive as the commission works its way up through the bureaucratic hierarchy, indicating the prevalence of the crime in the civil service, and as there are takers, there will be givers. Palms are being greased and the greasers, too, will be apprehended as the cases are made against the officers. Malaysia’s incidences of corruption are coming undone slowly, and in just a few years the cases are unravelling. Granted, there are many countries more blighted by corruption than Malaysia, but MACC’s current success rate — although, still in its early days — testifies to a substantial problem, not quite an epidemic, but a cancer it surely is. A drop in the country’s Corruption Perception Index ranking is another indication of the problem.
What MACC is doing is in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s vision for a corrupt-free country. It is under his administration that the fight against corruption is intensified. Under the Government Transformation Plan, the pledge by the government is to fight corruption and reduce crime. Hence, every citizen must be behind MACC by supporting its actions, and wherever possible, helping with its investigations. For instance, a report that suggests some 80 per cent of the Immigration officers at the Malaysia-Thailand border are corrupt is intolerable. How many more are there of such government offices riddled with dishonest officers?
For the average Malaysian, the very thought is petrifying. The spread of the disease must be stopped and then eradicated. Whistleblowers must come forward to facilitate investigations. Holding one’s peace under the circumstance is nothing short of collusion. As investigations intensify, it can only get more dangerous for the MACC investigators and whistleblowers. MACC is independent, but it needs the backing and support of the public, police and country’s leadership. It must be allowed to function without interference and free of threats.