Malaysian anti-corruption agency calls for tough new laws

By on 11/09/2017
Malaysia’s rapid development has created opportunities for civil service corruption. The country’s anti-corruption agency is now calling for new laws. Source: http://www.sprm.gov.my

Civil servants who lose public money through negligence or unethical practice should face criminal charges, according to a government agency charged with tackling corruption in Malaysia.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) told Malaysian daily newspaper the Sun Daily that the existing law addressing misconduct by officials – the General Orders and Public Services Act, under which civil servants are punished through disciplinary action – does not deter offenders.

It has proposed a new law, the Misconduct for Civil Service Act. MACC deputy chief commissioner of operations, Datuk Azam Baki, told the paper that it hopes the law would act as a powerful deterrent to those tempted to abuse their powers. “It is to send out a strong message to wayward civil servants that they cannot get away scot-free after causing substantial losses in public funds, even after they are cleared of elements of corruption and power abuse.”

The law make them more responsible and prudent when spending public funds, he added. The MACC hopes to see its law in place in 2018, after discussions with politicians and lawmakers.

Urged to go further

The auditor general of Malaysia, whose job is to conduct independent audits on federal and state government as well as other public bodies, has previously complained of malpractice and discrepancies in the management of public funds.

Anti-corruption campaigning charity Transparency International (Malaysia) welcomed the proposed law. But it questioned whether it should be limited to civil servants and suggested that politicians and others in elected positions should also be held to account, since negligent civil servants were often acting on their behalf.

Any proposed law should fairly apply to everyone involved in the decision-making process, and that includes politicians, the group said in a statement.

“There is no good reason why this should not be done and there has been too little efforts to plug these important loopholes in our anti-corruption laws,” it added.

Love my tender?

The commission has also suggested clarifying a law to better tackle the issue of public officials awarding contracts to family members. Abuses of tenders in government-linked companies, which are private companies partially owned by the government, have become a serious problem, according to the charity.

The announcements are part of a crack-down on corruption in public bodies in the country. Last month, the MACC urged the public to report civil servants who appeared to be living beyond their means.

About Catherine Early

Catherine Early is a journalist and editor specialising in government policy and regulation. She writes predominantly about environmental issues and has worked for the Environmentalist, the ENDS Report, Planning magazine and Windpower Monthly, and also written for the Guardian, the Ecologist and China Dialogue.

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