Top heads must also roll, say groups

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Coverage by: The Star

PETALING JAYA: Government agency heads and director-generals should also be held accountable if corruption cases are detected under their agencies, say good governance experts.

They say better transparency and accountability alongside whistleblower protection was needed to fight corruption.

Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) president Dr Muhammad Mohan said apart from holding implicated officers accountable if an investigation revealed so, government agency heads and director-generals should also have action taken against them.

“All should be held accountable and step down or be removed immediately.

“Unfortunately, this culture of accountability is not present here. That is why corruption in the public sector keeps repeating,” he told The Star yesterday.

He said steps to fight corruption efficiently could and should be discussed at the Cabinet level, alongside giving the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) the support needed.

TI-M, he said, had repeatedly given recommendations to the government on steps to mitigate corruption.

“The Cabinet must take drastic action to address this, but unfortunately, this has not happened even among the previous governments,” he said.

He said the incident, alongside systemic corruption in the country, gave the country a bad image while also citing the deterioration of Malaysia’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) score in 2022 compared to previous years.

“Investors also have concerns when CPI scores keep deteriorating,” he added.

He said it was also a minister’s job to spot-check or go to the ground to ensure their ministry functions efficiently, alongside working with civil servants to find out steps to improve the efficiency of services provided.

On spot checks, Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) acting chief executive officer Pushpan Murugiah said raising the quality of services provided by officers in the said ministries could be a good practice.

He also stressed the need for more transparency and accountability in government businesses and better whistleblower protection.

“We need an Ombudsman office with enough bite and power to investigate maladministration and corruption.

“An MACC that is effective and independent is also needed,” he said, adding that these were some of the larger frameworks necessary to fight corruption in the bigger picture.

He said corruption issues within the Immigration Department were longstanding and needed to be addressed urgently.

“We are no stranger to allegations of human trafficking facilitated by Immigration Department officers at borders,” he said.

He said the current problem was an ineffective anti-corruption agency that lacked public trust and standing.

Pushpan said it would also make sense to form a special parliamentary committee specifically looking at corruption issues from a structural perspective.

He said another option was to park the matter under one of the 10 parliamentary select committees established.




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