Ex-judge: Come down hard on cor­rup­tion, re­gard­less of amount

New Straits Times - - News -

KUANTAN: For­mer Court of Ap­peal judge Datuk Mohd Noor Ab­dul­lah, who sparked a con­tro­versy by claim­ing that judges were le­nient when sen­tenc­ing cor­rupt in­di­vid­u­als, yes­ter­day re­it­er­ated his stand.

He said lower courts should come down hard on those found guilty of cor­rup­tion, re­gard­less of the amount in­volved.

Noor, who is now a mem­ber of the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Ad­vi­sory Board, said the Ses­sions Courts had at times dealt with cor­rup­tion cases in­volv­ing small amounts, such as RM20 or RM100, with small fines and no cus­to­dial penal­ties.

“The courts (es­pe­cially lower courts) must not be too soft just be­cause the kick­back is (nom­i­nally) a small amount.

“Cor­rup­tion of­fend­ers must be (ap­pro­pri­ately) pun­ished re­gard­less of the amount in­volved.

“I say that any kind of graft is still a crime,” he said yes­ter­day, adding that sen­tenc­ing on graft cases did not de­pend on the amount of grat­i­fi­ca­tion in­volved.

Noor said courts must not be le­nient about pun­ish­ments in graft cases, whether they in­volved po­lice of­fi­cers tak­ing RM20 bribes or politi­cians in­volved in cor­rup­tion to the tune of mil­lions of ring­git.

He was re­spond­ing to a state­ment by out­go­ing Chief Jus­tice Tun Arifin Zakaria two days ago, who said the al­le­ga­tion that courts were le­nient in sen­tenc­ing cor­rup­tion cases were un­founded and base­less.

Arifin was re­spond­ing to Noor’s state­ment on Tues­day that sen­tences meted out to those guilty of cor­rup­tion did not com­men­su­rate with the crime.

Noor yes­ter­day said courts must not only con­sider whether a bribe was nom­i­nally high or low, but also the con­text that led to graft.

“If it in­volves of­fi­cers from the Road Trans­port De­part­ment or po­lice, they usu­ally just ask for RM20 or RM100 bribes.”

He said if a politi­cian was in­volved in an il­le­gal deal in­volv­ing prop­erty, then the graft amount could be mil­lions of ring­git.

“The more power an of­fender has, the higher the grat­i­fi­ca­tion sought,” he said, adding that it was an is­sue of greed and hav­ing no in­tegrity.

He said the in­ap­pro­pri­ately light pun­ish­ments by the lower courts had forced the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion to ap­peal to the High Court or Court of Ap­peal.

“Nor­mally, cor­rup­tion cases (from the Ses­sions Court) are ap­pealed at the High Court or Court of Ap­peal over the sen­tences, which are not fair and in­suf­fi­cient.

“The High Court or Court of Ap­peal then usu­ally en­hances the sen­tences,” he said, adding that the in­creased penal­ties could in­clude jail time.

Noor re­minded Arifin, who is set to clock out for re­tire­ment to­day, that one must not be too sen­si­tive when re­spond­ing to valid pub­lic crit­i­cism.

“Judges must be open to crit­i­cism,” said Noor, who be­came a court in­ter­preter in 1960 and rose up the ranks to be­come a Court of Ap­peal judge.

Noor, who is from Rem­bau, Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan, re­tired from the ju­di­ciary in 2006.

Datuk Mohd Noor Ab­dul­lah

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