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MACC Boosts Battle Against Corruption

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The success of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in targeting corruption is now clear, with more than 900 individuals arrested last year for giving and receiving bribes.

The MACC has recorded significant successes, arresting and bringing to court a number of former menteris besar, former MPs, state assemblymen, CEOs, the general manager of a major firm, and even a deputy public prosecutor.

The formation of 14 Special Corruption Courts in July last year has helped in speeding up the legal process of corruption cases.

The MACC has seized RM66 million worth of property, including bungalows and luxury cars, over the past two years.

The commission has come up with strong recommendations for the Government, including the blacklisting or suspension of the operations of companies known to have engaged in corrupt practices.

The MACC, in its report which had been forwarded to Parliament in June for deliberation, said this proposal was one way to prevent corruption in the future.

The 168-page document shows that the MACC, which has adopted an outcome-based investigation approach, opened 1,304 investigation papers from the 6,475 reports it received last year. Of this, 967, including several high-profile cases, were completed within the same year and 263 people were hauled to court to face corruption charges.

The commission has achieved a conviction rate of 74 per cent, compared to 71 per cent in 2010 and 54 per cent in 2009. From the convictions it secured last year, the MACC also slapped offenders with fines worth almost RM11 million.

In fact, MACC's conviction rate is now the highest since it was upgraded from the Anti-Corruption Agency in January 2009.

A key reason for its growing success is the clear direction given by the Government to the MACC to clean out corruption and prosecute those responsible. The agency reports directly to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The Government has also introduced the Integrity Pact and the Corporate Integrity Pledge to ensure that the procurement process by the Finance Ministry is done in a transparent manner.

The MACC found that the country had lost RM2.2 billion in revenue collected by the Customs Department due to under declaration, misappropriation and manipulation that allowed companies to "escape" taxes. This, it said, was made worse with "some Customs officers conspiring to allow this to happen."

A major swoop on these wayward officers, some of whom were high-ranking personnel, contributed to the Customs Department increasing its revenue by RM2.1 billion to RM30.4 billion last year, a record achievement despite the Government having slashed import duties on a slew of goods.

The report also listed checks and consultations it had done on Government departments and agencies, including any weaknesses that could allow room for corruption or the abuse of power.

Among those mentioned in the report were the Immigration Department for its issuance of "special passes" to foreigners to have their stay extended, Puspakom Sdn Bhd for its tinted screen checking system, as well as the Kuala Lumpur City Hall for its enforcement against cyber cafes under its jurisdiction.

In pointing out flaws and weaknesses in their systems as well as ways to arrest them, a total of 94 agencies and departments have come under the attention of the MACC.

Among the commission's latest initiatives is the shaming of convicted offenders. Companies found guilty of giving bribes are now blacklisted and their names added to the MACC's database of offenders, which is freely available on its official website.

With the crackdown on corruption continuing, whether it is (allegedly) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or a foreign multinational, everyone is increasingly aware that corruption is no longer tolerated in Malaysia. The Government's comprehensive approach to tackling the problem is finally paying off.

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