THE Cus­toms Depart­ment now has an al­most air­tight sys­tem to stem leak­ages and cor­rup­tion in its ranks. Its di­rec­tor-general, Datuk Seri Subro­ma­niam Tho­lasy, is con­fi­dent that with the Cor­rup­tion Risk Man­age­ment in place, its tax collection could rise by a

New Straits Times - - Front Page - RE­PORT BY ALIZA SHAH






THE Cus­toms Depart­ment has put in place an al­most air­tight screen­ing sys­tem to min­imise chances of its per­son­nel en­gag­ing in cor­rup­tion.

The Cor­rup­tion Risk Man­age­ment (CRM) sys­tem that will be in­tro­duced in crit­i­cal sec­tions of the depart­ment, which is one of the coun­try’s big­gest rev­enue earn­ers, will also serve to re­duce leak­ages that could have hin­dered Cus­toms from earn­ing more than it had been able to.

Ini­tia­tives in­tro­duced un­der CRM have seen ma­jor tweaks to some of the depart­ment’s ageold sys­tems and pro­ce­dures.

This in­cludes a “sur­prise ros­ter­ing” of per­son­nel in spe­cific ar­eas as well as the in­tro­duc­tion of a pro­gramme where the lev­els of in­tegrity of the tax­men are “an­a­lysed”.

Cus­toms di­rec­tor-general Datuk Seri T. Subro­ma­niam told the New Straits Times that he was op­ti­mistic that with the new mech­a­nism in place, the depart­ment’s tax collection could in­crease by a “few bil­lion ring­git”.

“This fully-in­te­grated sys­tem pre­vents per­son­nel from ma­nip­u­lat­ing the cur­rent sys­tem and pro­ce­dures. Cor­rup­tion hap­pens be­cause some of the pro­ce­dures lack trans­parency, so they are prone to be ma­nip­u­lated.

“CRM is ba­si­cally a tool that re­views the pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures to stop cor­rup­tion and abuse of power.

“Since I as­sumed this post, we have con­ducted work­shops to iden­tify weak­nesses in the pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures,” he said, adding that the CRM launched yes­ter­day would be fully op­er­a­tional by year-end.

Subro­ma­niam vouched for CRM’s ef­fec­tive­ness, say­ing that the tam­per-proof sys­tem, en­hanced with an air­tight checkand-bal­ance mech­a­nism, her­alded a new era for the depart­ment’s per­for­mance.

“If em­ploy­ees try to get around the sys­tem, they will find out that it is al­most im­pos­si­ble.

“If they try to fail the sys­tem, the sys­tem will not fail the depart­ment.”

The CRM also cov­ered an “im­proved” con­ven­tional sys­tem, which Subro­ma­niam be­lieved would ar­rest the peren­nial problem faced by many en­force­ment agen­cies that op­er­ated from as­signed sta­tions — their of­fi­cers get­ting too com­fort­able and work­ing in ca­hoots with the bad guys.

For Cus­toms men in such sta­tions, in­clud­ing those man­ning the coun­try’s en­try points and ports, the CRM, he said, would see to it that they ob­served not only a ro­ta­tional sys­tem, but also the “sur­prise ros­ter­ing”.

“There are cases where cer­tain goods that were com­ing in and would be taxed RM10,000, for ex­am­ple, but the as­sess­ment of­fi­cer (for rea­sons known only to him) charged a tax of RM5,000 only.

“Un­der this ro­ta­tional sys­tem, it will not be the same of­fi­cer at the same post... The ‘sur­prise ros­ter­ing’ sys­tem al­lows our per­son­nel serv­ing in these crit­i­cal en­try points to known where they will be sta­tioned only when they re­port for work that day.

“They will also only learn then which im­porters and agents they will be deal­ing with that day.

“The up­per man­age­ment will also con­duct ground au­dit­ing pe­ri­od­i­cally and their as­sess­ments, too, will be rechecked by our in­tegrity of­fi­cers.”

He also touched on for­ward­ing agents, in­clud­ing the black sheep among them.

He said these ap­pointed mid­dle­men, serv­ing to fa­cil­i­tate im­port and ex­port, would also be closely mon­i­tored and that they would face the full brunt of the law if they were in­volved in bring­ing in il­licit con­sign­ments.

“Typ­i­cally, in cases like this, where fraud­u­lent dec­la­ra­tions are made, these agents will put the blame on the im­porters, say­ing that they had no idea the con­sign­ments ran foul of the law.

“How is it pos­si­ble for these agents to get paid if they do not know who their clients are? Do they think that we are stupid?

“It is ex­tremely im­por­tant (to im­prove the pro­ce­dures), es­pe­cially with the Is­lamic State threat. You never know... one day they may at­tempt to bring in ex­plo­sives,” he said, adding that there had been cases of con­sign­ments con­tain­ing drugs being de­clared as pota­toes and cig­a­rettes as fur­ni­ture.

On the pos­si­bil­ity of Cus­toms men hav­ing their palms greased by the agents to close an eye to their il­licit im­ports, Subro­ma­niam said the depart­ment would work with the Malaysian An­ti­Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion to ad­dress such prob­lems.

“One of the key changes that we are mak­ing is to make these for­ward­ing agents more responsible in car­ry­ing out due dili­gence. That was why we ap­pointed them in the first place and if they fail to con­form, we will can­cel their li­cence.

“We have zero tol­er­ance of cor­rup­tion. That is our pol­icy and we will not ac­cept this non­sense. There are some bad ap­ples, but they are not the ma­jor­ity.”

He said un­der CRM, Cus­toms per­son­nel, in­clud­ing new re­cruits, would be com­pelled to un­dergo an in­tegrity test.

“We are go­ing to be the first en­force­ment agency to in­tro­duce the Malaysian In­tegrity Pro­fil­ing, and we are very happy and proud to do this.

“The mo­d­ule is de­vel­oped by the Malaysian In­sti­tute of In­tegrity to­gether with the Malaysian In­sti­tute of Mi­cro­elec­tron­ics Sys­tems Bhd, which will pro­file the of­fi­cers, and help iden­tify their in­tegrity level, strengths and weak­nesses.”

He said new re­cruits would be posted based on their pro­fil­ing.

A to­tal of 176 new of­fi­cers sat the in­tegrity test last Sun­day.

Page 1 pic: Perak Cus­toms di­rec­tor Datuk Awai Ma­mat (sec­ond from right) and Perak Cus­toms en­force­ment head Mohd Nordin Ab­dul­lah (right) in­spect­ing seized fire­works in Ipoh last month.

Perak Cus­toms per­son­nel tak­ing the cor­rup­tion-free pledge in Ipoh in March.

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