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.
The goods were never delivered.
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.
DATUK AKHBAR SATAR,
President, Transparency International Malaysia