Do you think corruption amnesty will work in Malaysia? Is it the right way to tackle endemic corruption?
Analyse the problem.
Corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain – both pecuniary and otherwise.
What if we gave every corrupt person a chance to come clean within 6 months?
Only if they don’t admit their crime should we put them – and those who enjoyed the fruits of their corruption – in prison.
You know why?
If we went after every corrupt person, we would likely have to prosecute 80% of the entire nation. Everything will stop. We don’t have enough investigators, enforcers, courts and judges to do the job. Prisons won’t have room.
Because corruption is part of the system.
That is why it has not been stamped out.
It is as if ten years ago, everyone let the nation go to rot. It did.
It requires something new.
For a start, we must do something to bring all that corrupt money back into the national treasury.
In Stage Two, we should really go after the recalcitrant—with leather and thong.
Otherwise, as a nation, we are all lost.
The disease is a cancer. It is at Stage Four.
Here is why:
Corruption is rife. We are all corrupt to some extent. So it has taken deep roots. We have encouraged it.
Corruption is a crime. Will you acknowledge it?
How do we stop it?
There is a way: years and years of raising awareness, education and rehabilitation, for the whole nation.
Remember the old RTM videos on being good? Like that.
But can we wait that long?
Suppose we could tell all those who are corrupt, and who have not been arrested:
“We know you are corrupt. We’ll give you 3 months. Declare everything you took. Bring it back. We will go easy on you. ”
When the corrupt are prepared to do that, the Government should tell them:
“Make full disclosure to the Government. Your admissions will be kept a secret. It will be with the Corruption Amnesty Department. We will charge you in court, but you will be let-off with a non-custodial sentence. We will give you the opportunity to keep, (say) 10.0% of the monies. This will cater for your family’s future expenses.
If you are involved in government projects, we will assist your company maintain the contract.
But first, you must repatriate these monies.
If you refuse there will be consequences. You’ll be imprisoned for a minimum of 10 years.
There will be no mitigation of sentence.
You cannot make any deals with prosecutors.
Your citizenship will be forfeit. Because your conduct has been detrimental to the economic well-being of the nation.
All assets in your name– or that of your nominees – will be taken over by the government.
By a special provision in the Corruption Amnesty Act 2018 (‘CAA’), the Federal Government will become the automatic owner of all your assets.
The Government may dispose of those assets, whether within or beyond Malaysian jurisdiction.’
In this way, we should treat the ‘early birds’ with velvet gloves.
Those who refuse to admit should have international arrest warrants hanging over their head. Their passports should be embargoed. They will be charged and if found guilty, sent to the prison. Also, if their relatives have been enjoying the fruits of corruption, knowing it was due to corruption, they get imprisoned too.
They must choose whether they want the velvet glove treatment, or the iron fist.
What is ‘corruption amnesty’? The trifurcated aims of corruption are to repatriate lost money with minimum effort, the punishment of offenders, and removing the burdens of the nation’s investigative, enforcement and judicial machinery.
Some form of judicial sanction must be made against amnesty seekers. They must be punished, but not heavily. After the amnesty, they cannot take part in politics. They cannot be appointed to positions of any responsibility.So the main aim is not to parade the guilty. It is to give them a way out.
Certainly they must be put out to pasture, and their social roles completely removed. Their royal titles must be automatically forfeit.
If they are large corporations with Government contracts, if they cooperate, they should be allowed rehabilitation. If they refuse, they must lose everything.
This saves a great deal of money, time, and effort.
The legal concept of ‘restorative justice’ argues that the commission of any crime injures the victim and the community.It entitles the victim to participate in the reparative process. Criminals should pay to the community, and the victim.
So what is wrong if the corrupt now are allowed to ‘repair’ their crime, and return the monies to society?
What is wrong if the nominees and family and friends of the corrupt should take part in this reparative process?
If they refuse, they should be punished too.
Do you think they will take the fall for the crook?
The purists will protest on two fronts: first they’d say,
‘This is self-incrimination. We shouldn’t condone such high-handed Government behaviour’.
And they’d say,
‘…to grant amnesty is to reward the guilty’.
What alternatives are available?
Despite the change of government, as far as corruption is concerned, it is widely believed that, ‘It is business as usual. The head may change, but nothing else does. Pay, and it is done.’
Nothing ever moves, at any level– without it being greased by corruption.
It has become a culture, and a part of our national blood stream.
Shameful, but true.
Are we prepared to do something about it? How have other countries done it? What is missing? How would corrupt enforcers change their long-ingrained habits– unless we meant business?
There is no point in taking antibiotics if you live in a place seething with the virus.
You need to obliterate it without trace.
Every corrupt person will get off scot free.
Those who stole from the Government, corrupt civil servants, dishonest enforcement officers, corrupt businessmen, and most importantly – corrupt politicians – they are all about to get off scot free.
They know that.
The Government knows that.
The AG’s Chambers knows that.
The MACC knows that.
And there is nothing to be done about it.
The prosecution of the ex-premier, or his then cabinet colleagues, is only a scratch on the surface.
The real business of getting to the corrupt has not even begun.
The scale of corruption in Malaysia is completely underestimated
What are the numbers involved?
Take the previous regime. Look at the number of ministries it set up. Take the top 50 e.g. of each ministry. Not all were corrupt – but a substantial number must have been. The figures being trotted out by the new government are astounding. Then take the departments placed under each of these ministries.
To every such ministry or department add 25 corrupt business persons. And to each ministry and department add all the hangers-on, and top to mid-level party leaders then in power.
Then multiply each by at least 30. That is the number of ministries we had before GE14. Some ministries had as many as four deputy ministers. And the there were the parliamentary secretaries.
To that add the State administrations controlled by the previous regime. And in each such State, add the number of businessmen.
If we take RM1.0 billion as the most virulent yardstick of illegally amassed wealth, then – there could be as many as 100 businessmen. They had to pay to get government business.
Ifs the sum taken in corruption is scaled down to RM500 million, there could be as many as 5,000 corrupt persons.
Then, if we reduce the takings to RM100 million, there could be as many as 10,000 miscreants.
Those taking part in corrupt practices involving values between RM 1.0 million to 50.0 million could be as many as 100,000 to 200,000 offenders.
We fed them for 60 years.
They grew in numbers.
How are we to prosecute these people?
Prosecuting the corrupt is not easy
To prosecute a corrupt person, one needs to establish an unbroken chain of documentary evidence. A whole slew of documents need to be assembled. Any attempt to charge a single crook is hampered by a complete lack of resources.
There are not enough trained officers in MACC to track them down.
There are insufficient officers in the Police to investigate them.
And there are wholly inadequate number of lawyers in the AG’s Chambers to prosecute them.
We do not have enough experienced judges to hear prosecution cases.
And we do not have enough courts to have the prosecutions in.
So what do we do?
The answers are in Part-2: Proposals!
Watch this space.
[I express my gratitude to Santhi Latha, Narkunavathi Sundareson, VK Raj, and Harleena Kaur].