Mariam Mokhtar: Which do you think is the most corrupt government agency?

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Remember that over 60 years of Umno and Umno-Baru/BN misrule meant that your money, both taxpayers and your own, end up in the politicians’ pockets.

FMT

A number of exposés about alleged irregularities in Defence contracts have been made by PKR in recent weeks. Did the Minister of Defence deny these allegations, or claim they were unfounded?

Wouldn’t you like to know if other ministries are also knee-deep in alleged corrupt activities?

What has Umno-Baru done in their decades of misrule and mismanagement to stamp out corruption? Isn’t their handling of bribery and corruption one reason to kick them out of office and power?

A landowner I asked a few years ago alleged that the Land and Mines Department was corrupt. Another person who helped to source migrant labour for estates alleged that the Immigration Department was amongst the most corrupt.

It’s not just ministries and major departments that are allegedly corrupt. Some friends claim that they could be driving along a road, but out of the blue, they are suddenly flagged down by a policeman on a kapchai.

They are adamant that they have done nothing wrong, but are too afraid to state this to the policeman. Subsequently, a tidy sum of money will exchange hands to avoid a summons. The price varies from RM50 to RM300 on average.

What is annoying is that some of the people I asked are decent law-abiding citizens, professionals, who know that corruption and bribery are wrong, and their answers vary from: Do you know how long it takes to lodge a police report that I had done nothing wrong? It’s far simpler to offer a bribe and be on my way. Or, I do not like the hassle of proving I did not break any rules in the highway code.

So, if a survey was done, which ministry would you think is top of the list? Where would government agencies like the police, immigration, fire services and local councils fare?

Has a confidential survey been done by the MACC, or any NGO, or other reliable independent agencies? Would you trust the results? If not, why not? How can we make this right?

Would households respond to this survey, or would they be petrified to acknowledge that a government official had been corrupt. Most people are afraid of the backlash.

It is also a matter of trust in exposing the corrupt. Would you trust the public exposés through social media? Is it better when politicians like Rafizi Ramli reveal corrupt activities? Or the NGOs? The MACC? The media?

Of the friends who admitted paying the policemen or other government agency a back-hander, none made any attempt to report this exchange of money. This only adds to the national problem.

Businessmen need to access a service speedily. When I asked a friend why he offered a bribe, his answer was simple. He said, “If I did not pay up, the opening date for my restaurant would be further delayed. I complied with all the necessary requirements, but even that was not sufficient.

“Time is money”, he added.

Another friend said that he wanted to purchase a parcel of state land for agricultural activities, but the delay was unexplainable. He had answered all the queries the department required. After several months of waiting for a response, he was advised by a friend that a hospitality gesture, meaning a bribe, might smooth the process. It worked.

In a way, it is understandable that in Malaysia, a bribe works so people can access government services, or do it to hasten the service. We should not condone corruption, but what can one do, if the authorities appear to drag their feet in solving this problem?

What steps have ministries taken to stop this scourge on society? Not everyone can afford to pay a bribe. Perhaps, like some people allege, accessing the government service benefits the highest bidder.

You then wonder how many Malaysians would resort to paying bribes to speedily access services? It would be interesting to know how much the rakyat pays out in bribes each year. Has a study been done?

Which states are prone to corruption? The more developed states like Selangor, and Penang? Or the very deprived states like Kelantan, and Kedah?

Paying bribes is not limited to local agencies. The United States Department of Justice said that Goldman Sachs (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd admitted to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with a scheme to pay over $1 billion in bribes to Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials to obtain lucrative business for Goldman Sachs.

If a survey to find out the most corrupt ministry or government agency were to be conducted, what would the results reveal?

Would the answers differ from individuals, like the ordinary Malaysian who needs to access a government service, like the Land and Mines department, or the local council department in charge of Housing?

Would the answers be very different from businessmen, who also need access to specific government services?

What would the response be from potential businesses which are bidding for a particular government project?

Would the answers be biased along racial, and religious lines?

Vote wisely in GE-15. Remember that over 60 years of Umno and Umno-Baru/BN misrule meant that your money, both taxpayers and your own, end up in the politicians’ pockets.

Haven’t you suffered enough? – Rebuilding Malaysia