Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission

The Problem

There is a growing worldwide concern over corruption. Taking Malaysia as a country of concern, to crusade against bribery and corruption alone by the MACC is well-nigh an impossible task. To successfully enforce anti-corruption laws, the cooperation of other enforcement agencies is indispensable. With the undivided commitment of such agencies, there will be success in hauling the sharks and ‘small fish’ guilty of corruption at both the lower and higher levels of authority in the public and private sectors. Not halting at this, the issue of ethical conduct of public employees too received a great deal of focus from international, regional and national organizations interested in promoting the performance of the public sector. A consensus has developed world-wide over the importance of reforming public sector institutions to strengthen integrity, transparency and accountability and to prevent and combat corruption as it does nothing but tarnishes the image and services of a country. Such reforms are crucial to protecting public resources, enhancing public sector performance, and strengthening the government’s role in orchestrating development and providing basic services. A serious challenge faces developing countries in accelerating development and growth. With the advent of globalization, they face many obstacles to having a greater share of world trade and investment. People of Malaysia in this context, labelled the public officials to be corrupted as it said that only when payment or gifts is made, work will accomplished thus having good turnaround regardless for a business or personal gains and this in return has not affected the affluent but the poor. Overcoming such obstacles requires major reforms in the public sector to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness. It requires better governance that is more inclusive of the various groups in society. Moreover, the success and effectiveness of public sector reforms rest on more effective control over corruption.

Low salary scales and high cost of living are not the main factor for corruption among the support group in the civil service, according to a survey by the MACC. On the contrary, corruption is caused by individuals’ own weaknesses such as greed and having the desire to live in wealth and luxury despite not having the means to attain them. Internal shortcomings in an organisation such as weak leadership, opaque system and procedure, the existence of bureaucratic red tapes and extensive discretionary powers open up the opportunities for corruption.

There must be complete screening and house-cleaning within these enforcement agencies, among the officers and staff who man anti-bribery and corruption posts. If they themselves are gullible and fall prey to corruption, the credibility of the agencies they serve is diminished. Their anti-corruption crusade becomes meaningless. The public by and large fall short in understanding that it is wrong to think that those receiving bribes are not committing any offence. In line with this development, the Commission thought it is best for them to implement bribe giver fight campaign on a large scale for the arrest of bribe givers who try to offer a bribe to a public servant.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
As stated under one of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 (Act 694) provision, there is a duty to report all forms of attempted bribery transactions and failure to do so is an offence, which on conviction be liable to a fine of not exceeding one hundred thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or both. If bribery is being solicited or obtained, or an attempt has been made to obtain then failure to report such act, will on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both. Thus, it is the duty of either the potential giver or receiver to report bribery and failure to do so may land them to a criminal charge. "People have to take a vow to themselves not to be involved in bribery. It is only the selfish ones who give money to get their work done. Corruption will remain unless the bribe-giver ceases to exist”.

An initiative on the fight against bribe givers gathered momentum on 26 April 2010 with its entry into force through the campaign which was officiated by Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, Chief Secretary to the Government. The campaign, Restrain From Accepting: Fight Against Bribe Givers is aimed to enhance the integrity of public officials to fight corruption, abuse of powers and malpractices. The campaign also seeks to enlighten the public that bribe givers are not absolved from legal actions to be taken against them. The awareness among the public officials on this scourge of corruption will turn them to be more assertive and defy corrupt practices as a culture of life.

After hitting a wall on several high-profile cases, the MACC is now shifting its focus on bribe givers. As a result of the campaign, it was noticed that the number of arrests among the public officials under the offence of section 17(a) of the MACC Act 2009 (Act 694) dropped by 32% representing 200 arrests in the year 2010 compared to the 294 arrests made in 2009. However, under the offence of section 17(b) of the same Act, a rise of 283% representing 424 arrests was seen in the year 2010 compared to the 108 arrests made in the year 2009. This report on the statistics clearly reflects a paradigm shift of mindset and attitude amongst the public officials particularly of those who are attached to enforcement agencies. More civil servants were also perceived to be beginning to step up in lodging reports with the commission since 2010 as compared to the previous years. It was the first time cases involving bribe recipients outnumbered that of bribe givers.

A total of 380 individuals were arrested under the offence of receiving gratification compared to 294 individuals in 2009. 84 individuals were arrested on account of giving bribe in 2010 compared to the 60 individuals in 2009, an increase of 40%. A drop from 8 to 1 arrest was recorded under the offences of using own’s position.

This clearly shows that the level of awareness of civil servants towards corruption and responsibility to fight corruption is continuously improved. The factors that led to this increase are based on the programmes introduced by the Government including awareness activities conducted by the MACC.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The MACC believed that without bribe givers, there would be no corruption involving public servants, especially enforcement officers. Subsequently, after examining the current debate, “the public have always wondered why the MACC seems to be focusing on the bribe recipients”... the MACC went all out against the bribe givers by taking the stand as stated in section 17(b) of the MACC Act 2009 which plainly defines that a person who corruptly gives or agrees to give or offers any gratification to any agent as an inducement or a reward for doing or forbearing to do, or for having done or forborne to do any act in relation to his principal’s affairs or business, or for showing or forbearing to show favour or disfavour to any person in relation to his principal’s affairs or business, commits an offence. The wrong-doer shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years and a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the gratification. However, the questions of can the MACC rely on only its own legal parameters or on self-regulation to banish such disease? Are other means such as laws or statutes needed? At the forefront of this debate we find one variable: the assistance of other enforcement agencies. However, a new sensibility seems to be emerging. All the involved agencies now agree that cooperation have a main role to play towards a country free from the malicious disease.

The commission strengthened its enforcement while acquiring cooperation and support from other 10 enforcement agencies as listed below and not forgetting the collaboration showed by the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public Service (CUEPACS) who took a fair share into making the campaign a successful one initiated and recommended by the MACC. That cooperation, building a consensus based on shared objectives, would work to promulgate legal commitments in the fight against corruption.
• Royal Malaysian Police
• Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency
• Forestry Department
• Volunteers of Malaysian People (RELA)
• Royal Malaysian Customs Department
• Immigration Department of Malaysia
• Road Transport Department
• Putrajaya Corporation
• Kuala Lumpur City Hall
• Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism
• Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public Service (CUEPACS)

Among the reasons for this were the success of programmes introduced by the government and awareness campaign by the MACC’s Community Education Division who planned and realized that the only way to create a corrupt free country and to boost the image of the public sectors is to cooperate with the other key enforcement agencies.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The implementation of the campaign strategy involves the application in obtaining the desired results. Particularly, of those that include allocating resources, developing information and decision process, and managing human resources, including such areas as the reward system, approaches to leadership, and staffing. Prior to the implementation, the MACC with all the support, maintained the political support from the Prime Minister and his cabinet through a decision making meeting recognizing the effort as productive. Consent from the Chief Secretary to the Government was also achieved in making way. The public in general was also brought to be aware on the upcoming initiative through the various printing materials and electronic transmission. The mission was indeed clear in projecting the objectives of what the Government of Malaysia and the MACC particularly intend to improve.

As stated earlier, there is no single solution in fighting corruption. The MACC adopts a three pronged approach: operation, prevention and community relations. As a result, the Commission consists of three separate departments: the Operations Department to investigate corruption: the Inspection and Consultation Division to examine the systems and procedures in the public sector, to identify corruption opportunities and to make recommendations to plug the loopholes; and the Community Education Division to educate the public against the evil of corruption and to enlist their support and partnership in fighting corruption.

The three prongs are equally important, but MACC devotes over 70% of its resources to the Operations Department. Fighting corruption is a very difficult task, because you are confronting people who are probably very intelligent, knowledgeable and powerful. Thus the corruption fighters must be very professional in their jobs. The MACC ensures that their staffs are professionals in their diverse responsibilities – the Operations Department has professional investigators, intelligence experts, computer experts, accountants and lawyers (seconded from the Attorney General’s Chambers) on their staff.

The MACC has a very wide range of education strategies, in order to enlist the support of the entire community in a partnership to fight corruption. It includes:
Media publicity to ensure effective enforcement cases are well publicized, through press releases, media conferences and interviews, as well as the making of a TV drama series based on successful cases.
• Media education – use of mass media commercials to encourage the public to report corruption; promote public awareness of the evils of corruption and the need for a fair and just society, and as a deterrence to the corrupt.
• School ethics education programme, starting in kindergarten up to the universities.
• Corruption prevention talks and ethics development seminars for public servants and business sectors.
• Issue corruption prevention best practices and guidelines.
• Organize exhibitions and fairs, to spread the message of a clean society.

The MACC adopts a partnership approach to mobilize all sectors to fight corruption together such as:
1. Civil Service Commission
2. All government departments
3. Business community
4. Professional bodies
5. Civic societies & community organizations
6. Educational institutions
7. Mass media
8. International networking

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The campaign is enforced through a programme of systematic follow-up to monitor and promote their full implementation. This is essentially accomplished through a rigorous peer-view process involving two evaluative phases and series of meetings with all the enforcement agencies involved.

Phase 1: Determining the implementation
Phase 1 of this process which began in early 2010, involves and examination of the relevant laws and secondary legal sources of each agencies to determine whether they conform to the requirements under the campaign. In preparation for the Phase 1, each agency is to prepare the basis of each agency responses and comments in establishing this campaign in its fight against corruption.

Phase 2: Evaluating the implementation of the campaign
Phase 2 focuses on the application of the laws in practice. It studies the structures put in place to enforce the laws and rules in implementing the campaign and to assess their application in the future practice of such procedure by coming up with a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Phase 2 broadens the focus of monitoring to encompass more fully the non-criminal law aspects of the recommendation and also serves as an educational function as each agency took the opportunity of discussing problems and different approaches for remedial action wherever potential loopholes or gaps were observed. The Phase 2 also benefits from informal exchange of views with key representatives of the private sector and civil society in order to determine the impact that the laws and enforcement have had on behaviour, including compliance schemes.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
It is perhaps stating the obvious that tackling a phenomenon that is undermining every aspect of a country’s development and has spread to every sector of the community will require substantial resources if the effort is to succeed. In reality it may not be that obvious. Looking at the countries that have decided to tackle corruption by enacting laws and creating an anticorruption body manned by a handful of officers, the most common cause of failure is the lack of resources put into the fight. On the assumption that our leaders have the will to address the problem, it seems that time and again the fail to consider the quantity of resources needed and the financial costs involved.
The cause of pitfalls fall into broad categories relating to personal resources, political considerations, realism in objectives and expectations, public confidence and staying control of the problem.

Lack of Officers and Deputy Public Prosecutors
With such a restrained recruitment, it has affected the effectiveness of the MACC in discharging its duties as the current scenario of corruption has become more complex and sophisticated. The critical workforce that has been scrutinized so far involves the aspect of the MACC operations whereby additional workforce particularly Investigation Officers and Deputy Public Prosecutor should be given urgent consideration by the Government.

Political Interference
Well-intentioned but overly-detailed monitoring of the operational activities of the Commission leads to ineffectiveness. Sometimes the interference is deliberately intended to aim at the Commission at political opponents who therefore have every interest in hampering its work.

Reliance on Enforcement Alone
The understandable reaction to the extensive criminality of corruption is the enactment of more offences, severer penalties and stronger investigate powers that erode human rights, ignoring the numerous lessons of experience that enforcement alone never deals with corruption but on the contrary tends to make matters worse.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
There can be little doubt that an agency required to lead the implementation of a national strategy against a national problem ought to be funded by public monies voted by the legislature. Its estimates therefore form part of the government’s annual estimates.

The process of preparing those estimates is an annual ritual of negotiating with the ministry of finance for a slide of the resource pie, in competition with the big-spending departments like health and education. The setting of spending priorities is the job of the government and it is for the government to decide what priority to give to the fight against corruption. Most of the resources were predominantly used on all the media campaigns to generate the information to the public. These media campaigns include the showcases of buntings, banners, video screens, slots in television and radio advertisements, major newspapers advertisements and led screens. Flyers and brochures were also circulated throughout the country. The campaigns with the collaboration of the key enforcement agencies took the initiate too by doing internal channels of information their own workforces. As for the human resources, the MACC is backed with the majority of officers from the various enforcement agencies working in the field of operations. The sole of the campaign were carried out not only in the capital of Malaysia but throughout the whole Malaysia.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Dealing with corruption is far from being simply a matter of law enforcement. The casualties of corruption include the country’s integrity system itself, and therefore reform of the national integrity system has to take place. In this effort, it is important from the outset that the political will is present to obtain legislative or administrative changes effective enough to contain corruption. It is also essential to have the three main actors of society working together: the government, the private sector and the civil society. The energies of all three are needed to assure changes in moral and ethical attitudes and to achieve meaningful reforms. Much to the accomplishment of working together with the key enforcement agencies in Malaysia, strong impacts were seen through the implementation of the impact, hence, not only in the number of arrests, the levels of integrity but the willingness of citizens particularly those public official to come forward in reporting such crimes. Efforts have too sought to improve national and local government capacity, public finance management and not to mention public funds at large.

Yes. Such campaign can be implemented at any other kinds of agencies regardless of private or public sector with infinitesimal modifications be applied to the existing systems and legal parameters. The concept and objectives of the campaign can be replicated, acclimatized and adopted by others. The precondition in implementing this initiative is to inaugurate a close cooperation with the target groups and yet share the identical nature of objectives. The campaign is considered a step forward in preparing the Government agencies towards the fight against corruption despite the other major initiatives taken by the MACC itself.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The Commission advised all civil servants to report any corrupt acts.Any person to whom any gratification is given, promised, or offered, in contravention to any provision of this Act shall report such gift, promise or offer together with the name, if known, of the person who gave, promised or offered such gratification to him to the nearest officer of the Commission or police officer. The provision of the section makes it obligatory for everyone for that matter to report on any transaction of bribery. Apart from this obligation, the Government carrying through this campaign came up with various incentives to encourage the public officials in general to come forward and report on any known bribery transaction. Some of the benefits in placed are certificate of recognition, dollar to dollar reward, extra bonus points in annual performance evaluation report and something to look for is on the recommendation for state/federal awards.

Much to the accomplishment, there is a sharp decline on the arrest of civil servants compared to those in the private sectors over the past three years as government officials are now more ready to lodge a report against bribe-givers. Government officials, especially those in the enforcement agencies such as the Police and the Road Transport Department (JPJ), are more aware of corrupt acts and have played a major role in the arrests of the offenders amounting to RM 272,950,00. Surprisingly, to boot the significance of the campaign, a significant number of foreigners were also arrested by the Commission in the year 2010 falling under the category of corruption. Among them are 7 Singaporeans who were arrested at Johor for trying to buy their way through traffic offences by offering bribes.

Those who used to hesitate about coming forward no longer have to fear retribution. Under the Whisteblower’s Protection Act 2010, protection will be given to the informants of the reported corruption cases. The informer’s identity is protected and will not be revealed in any court of law.

On top of this increase in awareness, public officials themselves have dared come forward to report on corruption which led to the arrest on bribe givers.
In fact, there are few community views and criticism that the authorities such as the MACC are taking action against corruption receiver alone. This is because usually, the prosecution of corruption cases is shown by the mass media is centred on individuals who accept bribes.

The implementation of corruption prevention modules in induction courses, promotion of officers and the introduction of government policies including on public delivery system and the setting up of Good Governance Committee contributed to the better figure. Following an increase in awareness, members of the civil service were becoming more forthcoming in reporting offer of bribes, leading to the arrest of bribe givers. Integrity, which the government is trying to imbibe among the civil servants, is becoming a reality. In line with this development, the MACC would carry out a massive anti-corruption campaign to nab those who tried to bribe civil servants.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Abu Kassim Mohamed
Title:   Dato' Sri  
Telephone/ Fax:   +60388867004 (TEL) / +60388889562 (FAX)
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Level 7, Block D6, Complex D, Federal Government Administrative Centre
Postal Code:   62502
City:   Putrajaya
State/Province:   Federal Territory Putrajaya
Country:   Malaysia

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