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