New Straits Times - - LETTERS - The goods were never de­liv­ered. DATUK AKHBAR SATAR, Pres­i­dent, Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional Malaysia

AC­CORD­ING to the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (MACC) Act, cor­rup­tion or bribery is the act of giv­ing or re­ceiv­ing grat­i­fi­ca­tion or re­ward in cash or in kind for per­form­ing a task in re­la­tion to some­one’s job.

An ex­am­ple is a con­trac­tor giv­ing an ex­pen­sive watch to a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial in re­turn for award­ing a project to the for­mer’s com­pany.

There are four of­fences re­lat­ing to bribery and cor­rup­tion as set out in the act.

FIRST, so­lic­it­ing or re­ceiv­ing grat­i­fi­ca­tion (bribe) un­der Sec­tions 16 and 17(a) of the act, which is the com­mon sce­nario of a per­son or agent so­lic­it­ing or re­ceiv­ing grat­i­fi­ca­tion or bribe as an in­duce­ment for per­form­ing or not per­form­ing a task.

An ex­am­ple is a court case where for­mer Kan­gar Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil pres­i­dent Ba­harudin Ah­mad was charged with so­lic­it­ing and re­ceiv­ing a bribe from a con­trac­tor of a 4ha hous­ing devel­op­ment in Padang Be­sar, Perlis.

In re­turn, he promised to ap­prove as well as en­sure the smooth run­ning of the project.

The bribe re­ceived from the con­trac­tor was RM30,000 cash, RM30,000 in cash cheque and a Mizuno golf set worth RM2,500.

The court, af­ter find­ing him guilty of the of­fence, jailed him for four years and fined him RM1.92 mil­lion.

SE­CONDLY, the of­fer­ing or giv­ing of grat­i­fi­ca­tion, which falls un­der Sec­tion 17(b) of the act, which is the sce­nario of a per­son or agent of­fer­ing or giv­ing grat­i­fi­ca­tion or bribe as an in­duce­ment for per­form­ing, or not per­form­ing, a task in re­la­tion to the of­fi­cial duty of a civil ser­vice of­fi­cer.

One ex­am­ple was a case in Sibu where a con­trac­tor was sen­tenced to eight months’ im­pris­on­ment and fined RM25,000 for giv­ing a bribe of RM1,500 to one San­dum Hitam, who was with the Sibu District Forestry Of­fice.

The bribe was to ex­pe­dite the ap­pli­ca­tion process for the “per­mit to en­ter coupe”.

THIRDLY, the case of in­tend­ing to de­ceive (false claim), which is the of­fence un­der Sec­tion 18 of the act.

Sec­tion 18 states that “any per­son pro­vid­ing doc­u­ments such as re­ceipts or in­voices that are false or con­tain false de­tails with the in­ten­tion to de­ceive the prin­ci­pal (of­fice)” com­mits an of­fence.

An ex­am­ple of this of­fence oc­curred when Datuk Md Saberi Md, ex-dean of the Fac­ulty of Sports Science and Re­cre­ation of Univer­siti Te­knologi Mara in Shah Alam, was sen­tenced to three years’ jail and fined RM10,000 by the Ses­sions Court for ac­knowl­edg­ing a false in­voice for the sup­ply of sports equip­ment worth RM138,600 in 1999.

LASTLY, un­der Sec­tion 23 of the act, it is an of­fence to abuse one’s power or use one’s of­fice or po­si­tion for grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

Abuse of power takes place when a per­son, who is a mem­ber of a pub­lic body, uses his po­si­tion or the of­fice in mak­ing a de­ci­sion, or tak­ing ac­tion for the ben­e­fit of him­self, his rel­a­tive or as­so­ciate.

The gen­eral penalty for any cor­rup­tion-re­lated of­fence in the act is im­pris­on­ment for a term not ex­ceed­ing 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the grat­i­fi­ca­tion or RM10,000, which­ever is higher.

The pun­ish­ment for cases in­volv­ing cor­rup­tion should be re­viewed to pro­vide for heav­ier sen­tences as ex­ist­ing penal­ties have no ef­fect on of­fend­ers.

Heav­ier penal­ties are called for in view of the threat of cor­rup­tion plagu­ing our coun­try.

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