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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 74657 Find in a Library
Title: Combating Corruption - The Malaysian Experience
Journal: Asian Survey  Volume:19  Issue:6  Dated:(June 1979)  Pages:579-610
Author(s): Y M Marican
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 14
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper traces Malaysia's efforts to combat corruption through legislation and use of special investigative agencies from 1950 to the present.
Abstract: Although the level of corruption is believed to be lower in Malaysia than in other Southeast Asian states, there is considerable concern within the country regarding corrupt practices of public officials. The original Prevention of Corruption Act was passed in 1950 and has been amended several times. It enables the public prosecutor to investigate corruption in government and requires legislators and members of public bodies to make a report of corruption for a promise of gratification. Since the 1950's, campaigns to publicize the evils of corruption have been launched sporadically, but cannot be expected to produce results in countries with limited communications networks and high illiteracy. Instead, government must demonstrate its will to reduce corruption by engaging in 'housecleaning' exercises, as demonstrated in the establishment of special commissions in 1940 and 1952. In 1959, special units were created to combat corruption within the police and the prime minister's department. In response to coordination problems and public pressures, all aspects of the government's anti-corruption effort were integrated into the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) in 1967. An analysis of ACA activities from 1968 to 1972 shows that there were more prosecutions against members of the public than against civil servants. The ACA was criticized as being ineffective because it was under the Home Affairs Ministry rather than being independent and had staff members recruited from the police who were untrained and on temporary assignment. Mounting pressures from opposition politicians and the public forced a review of the ACA, and in 1973 it was replaced by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). This agency was established by an Act of Parliament, and had authority to recruit its own staff. The director was appointed by the executive branch, and all officers had arrest powers and were given incentive allowances for successful investigations. Difficulties encountered by the NBI included criticism for failing to catch high level corrupt officials or 'big fish,' manpower shortages, and a 1975 smear campaign in the form of anonymous letters. Malaysia's relatively low level of corruption can be attributed to high salaries of civil servants, a smooth transition from colonial rule to independence, a relatively independent judiciary, and a relatively free press, and an articulate political opposition. Public debate over corruption has increased during the last few years, and the voters have given the National Front a clear mandate to clean up the government. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Corruption of public officials; Malaysia
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