‘People power’ can curtail corrupt activities

Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar
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KUALA LUMPUR – All it needed were two video clips that went viral on Facebook to spill out some unsavoury goings-on in Sungai Buloh, Selangor, namely an illegal gambling protection racket and the sale of contraband cigarettes.

Recorded and uploaded by a trader on his Facebook account called Hot Burger Malaysia, the clips led to the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) Enforcement Department director and nine enforcement officers from MBSA’s Sungai Buloh branch being remanded by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

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They were nabbed as part of a probe into claims that they were on the take for providing protection to certain illegal businesses operating in a certain area in Sungai Buloh.

The person behind the videos, burger seller Mohd Asri Hamid or better known as Asri Janggut, deserves unstinted praise as he was willing to risk his own life to record the clips so that he could show proof of the existence of the unholy syndicate to MACC.

In one of the incriminating videos he took, Mohd Asri said he was well aware of the danger he was exposing himself to as he could get killed by a local gambling kingpin.

His courage in exposing their immoral activities was incredible considering other people in the area could not do anything about it.

Other Malaysians should also emulate Mohd Asri’s action. As members of the local community, it is our duty to report to the authorities if we come across any criminal or immoral activity.

However, in response to the videos taken by Mohd Asri, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said the public should use the proper channels to report any wrongdoing to avoid endangering their own life.

He said the act of disseminating information on social media could pose a threat to the whistleblower and his family.

“Do not make any accusation on social media. Just lodge a report and the authorities will investigate,” he said.

This writer, however, feels that if one has a smartphone that can take photographs and videos, why not use it to record a criminal activity that is taking place right in front of their eyes and hand it over as proof to the authorities?

Why must we allow the criminals and syndicate members to continue enjoying their ill-gotten gains?

Bribery and corruption have been around for a long time and there appears to be no clear solution to stamp out this scourge.

Reports pertaining to corruption cases often appear in newspapers and news portals, with the accused ranging from ordinary members of the public to top civil servants and leaders. In fact, it has come to a stage where corruption is considered as normal by certain quarters, with the purported offenders not feeling an iota of guilt.

Malaysian Association of Certified Fraud Examiners president Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar opines that corrupt practices are hard to eradicate due to the misconception that MACC only goes in pursuit of those who receive bribes and not the party that offers gratification.

Pointing to Section 17 (b) of the MACC Act 2009, he said the act of giving a bribe is as serious as receiving gratification and that the penalty for both offences is the same.

If a person is convicted of offering a bribe, he or she faces a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine not less than five times the value of the bribe or RM10,000 whichever is higher.

“Some people seem to forget that the act of offering a bribe is just as despicable as receiving it. After all, it takes two hands to clap… if there is no giver, there is no receiver,” Akhbar said when contacted.

Urging the public to contact the MACC or the relevant enforcement agency if they have information pertaining to corruption in their surroundings, he said those who withhold such information can be charged under Section 25 of the MACC Act.

According to Akhbar, corruption exists due to lack of piety, overwhelming greed and the desire to live in the lap of luxury.

Citing Ibnu Khaldun, Akhbar said the 14th century Islamic scholar had linked corruption to people who wield the power to indulge in bribery in order to whet their appetite for the luxuries of life.

Muslims, in particular, should know and realise that in Islam, it is a huge sin to offer and take bribes as the act is considered haram or forbidden.

The Federal Territory mufti’s office, in its website, said Allah has clearly decreed: “Do not eat (or take) property (of other people) using the wrong avenue and do not extend your property (offer bribes) to the judges because you desire to eat (or take) a part of the property belonging to other people by (committing) sin…”. (Surah Al-Baqarah:188)

Prophet Muhammad has also condemned corrupt acts.

The Federal Territory mufti’s office’s website has also outlined the adverse effects of financial misappropriation, among them being the destruction of justice in a nation, the creation of a society bereft of skills and which only safeguards its own interests, deterioration of work quality and elevation of management costs.

Thus, it is an obligation for all Muslims to lend a helping hand to the government to fight the corruption menace from the top right down to the grassroots levels as part of efforts to create a progressive and corruption-free nation.

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