THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had a very good year in 2016. A total of 982 cases were opened, out of which 932 people were arrested. The numbers of arrests, too, have recorded a hike: 841 in 2015, 552 in 2014 and 509 in 2013.
MACC may arrest even more this year. As this paper reported on Wednesday, MACC is investigating a case involving a few government officials from a ministry which is said to put the “Sabah Watergate” to shame. We can imagine the enormity of the case.
Just to put the “Sabah Watergate” in perspective: in October 2016, MACC seized RM52 million cash and froze another RM60 million in bank accounts following the arrests of two senior Sabah Water Department officials. The graftbusters also seized nine luxury vehicles, 94 handbags, and an assortment of jewellery and watches. Prior to that, MACC had, on March 21, charged former Youth and Sports Ministry senior officer Otman Arshad, 57, with 32 counts of corruption involving RM38.5 million in federal funds.
Monday’s revelation is said to involve some RM100 million, a case which MACC has been tracking for a year. Five officers of a named ministry were said to have worked with 10 companies to squander the money which was meant for projects worth between RM500 million and RM1 billion. The officers have been siphoning off the money for some years, without leaving any paper trail. If not for Bank Negara Malaysia’s Suspicious Transaction Report, which alerted the graftbusters when huge movements of money were sought to be transferred, MACC may have taken a little longer to bust them.
Money has a seductive appeal. It is not gender biased, either. To fight corruption, everyone must be roped in to quell the scourge’s seductive appeal. For some years now, MACC has embarked on numerous initiatives to stifle this disease. One such effort is the embedding of graft-busters within government-linked companies (GLCs). For this to happen, the management of the GLCs must extend a welcome hand. The procurement process is where most of the seduction resides. This paper knows at least one GLC which has embedded MACC officers within its organisation. Other GLCs must do the same. Private companies, too, must take a leaf from this book. Another of MACC’s effort is its push for the signing of the Integrity Pledge and the No Gift Policy. We must not belittle such voluntary, internally-driven compliance initiatives as they go a long way in making the business of governance a transparent one.
The government, too, has made it easy for MACC to carry out its task of weeding out corruption. One such early move was the setting up of the special anti-corruption courts in 2011. If it took years before for cases to move through the courts, now they are adjudicated within 12 months. The government and MACC can only do so much. We, too, are part of the equation. As the saying goes, anti-corruption starts with us. Let us join hands to break the corruption chain and give seduction of money a pass.