MINISTER in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low recently told the Dewan Rakyat that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) detained 1,011 civil servants and 26 executives of government-linked companies (GLCs) for alleged corruption and money-laundering between 2014 and September this year.
Assets amounting to almost RM172mil were seized and frozen in relation to these cases.
The government officers nabbed outnumbered the GLC executives by nearly 40 to one, but that is no reason to focus less on the fight against corruption in the GLCs.
The GLCs are in many ways a special class of companies.
A GLC is like any other company in the sense that its primary objective is to make money from commercial activities.
At the same time, a GLC is controlled by the Government (usually through majority shareholding) and is thus an extension of the Government.
But that is not the only way that a GLC is like a government department or a statutory body.
Often, GLCs serve as instruments of public policy.
For example, they undertake huge projects that drive the country’s development. They are in industries that are strategic to national interests — aviation, finance, telecommunications, natural resources, automotive, ports and power.
They tailor certain aspects of their operations, such as human resources and procurement, to suit objectives set by the Government. And they champion causes that support what the authorities want to do.
As such, we have every reason to be dismayed if a GLC is not run with integrity and efficiency.
Do we derive comfort from the MACC’s detention of two GLC top men over the past week?
On Nov 10, the Commission picked up the general manager of a GLC at his house in Seremban to assist in a corruption probe.
And on Monday, a director of a GLC was detained for alleged abuse of power and corruption back when he was chief executive officer of another GLC.
We can view these developments as encouraging signs of the MACC stepping up its efforts to combat corruption in GLCs.
But the feel-good factor will not last if the investigations are not followed by swift and successful prosecution.
Hauling up people for questioning and freezing assets is only half the job.
The culprits must be brought to court and people need to see justice delivered without fear or favour.
If this does not happen, it only serves to bolster the longstanding argument that government has no business being in business.
By The Star Says – The Star analyses the issues and developments of the day, and offers a viewpoint.
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