In The Press: MACC: No givers, no takers

This highlights a report on the 2014 CPA Congress session on “Driving a Competitive Nation” and provides a simplistic response to a very serious issue in our country. The Business Ethics Institute of Malaysia (BEIM) encourages business enterprises to band together in meeting the challenges of corruption and inducement. We work with the private sector in wanting to make a difference. Like “equity” the private sector must likewise come with clean hands.

The principle “No givers, no takers” is far from the reality on the ground level. You have situations where the giver does not want to give but additional procedures, new requirement, delays and files lost all frustrate entrepreneurs who are paying interest on their financing to give in and capitulate.

Datuk IG Chandran, director of the forensic section of MACC stresses that corporations must be prepared to lose some business contracts if they find elements of corruption. Does such a stand help ethical principles to prevail? On the contrary, the corporation loses a business opportunity but does it really relish in taking a high moral ground while corruption continues to flourish? This is akin to good people becoming good for nothing.

On the other hand, you also have situations where the business sector provides inducement to beat requirements and conditions. The fact that they know money can make a difference induces them to use “runners” to do the needful. Even the most respectable developers are guilty in this respect.

With the enforcement mentality so widespread within the police, customs, district councils and the civil service, it is only through establishing clear cut policies, procedures and time lines that would inspire the growth of a spirit of transparency and accountability so critical if we want to make a difference in the battle to contain corruption.

The fact that MACC has received between 12,000 and 14,000 complaints, of which only 1,000 has been labelled “pursuable investigations”, raises very critical questions regarding the process. Those thousands who have complained with no action taken whatsoever would be sadly disappointed. A ratio of this nature cannot be explained away except to generate the perception that MACC itself does not have the will to act.

So corruption can only be tackled if “pursuable investigations” as defined by MACC is met. This ratio has to be increased but it also highlights how corruption is so well managed that many get away with it. Those who indulge in corruption use subtle means and have many methods by which inducement is both given and taken.

The recent arrest of a dozen custom officers and a state director is a feather in the cap of MACC. Nevertheless, with billions of ringgit in revenue lost, and the syndicate busted it raises major questions. We have all read about the porous nature of our Immigration offices in the border with Thailand. Not only drugs but billions of ringgit worth of cars have been smuggled. Who is giving them the cover? What about political leaders and the police? These questions have to be addressed.

The Business Ethics Institute of Malaysia (BEIM) believes in both advocacy and a well thought out approach that gives emphasis to the role of ethics as critical for business excellence. This is important in giving depth to the principle “no takers, no givers”. – September 11, 2014.

* K. Haridas is chairman of Business Ethics Institute of Malaysia.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

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