PETALING JAYA, Oct 8 — A top ranking officer within the civil service should not hold his post for a period longer than three years as it may compromise his integrity.
Transparency International-Malaysia president Datuk Akhbar Satar said those holding “gold mine” positions such as procurement officers should not be allowed to keep their tenure for more than a certain period as there is a possibility they will grow close to potential clients and may be showered with “gifts”.
“Under that circumstance, even a man with high integrity may be swayed into taking bribes,” he said.
His comments comes following the arrest of Sabah Water Department director Ag Mohd Tahir Mohd Talip, 54, and his deputy Teo Chee Keong, 51. They are being probed by the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission (MACC) for graft offences involving RM3.3 billion worth of federal projects awarded to some 38 firms belonging to the duo’s siblings and proxies.
He also blamed the rampant acts of corruption on poor leadership qualities shown by a number of top officers, adding most subordinates who swindle money would only act on it after “rationalising” the scenario.
“Typically, subordinates who are aware of money-laundering actions within a company would feel inclined to join in the ‘fun’ and would justify the situation. They would think, ‘If my boss can take 10 per cent of the profit, why can’t I take just this one per cent? What difference would it make?’ and the corruption would go on and on,” he said.
Akhbar said the Finance Ministry should establish an oversight committee, especially after approving multi-million ringgit projects, to ensure they are executed in a proper manner.
He said such committees exist in the United Kingdom and many other European countries and would be efficient in combating corruption locally.
“The committee can conduct history and background checks on companies involved in a project which would ensure total transparency,” he told Malay Mail.
“To avoid any conflict of interest, the committee should consist of members from independent bodies and prominent individuals which society looks up to.”
Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism founder Cynthia Gabriel said a longer tenure at certain departments could expose office bearers to the temptations of corruption.
“MACC’s latest bust shows the system in place is damaged. The assets seized (by the duo) were not accumulated overnight.
“Limiting the tenure of such officers would prevent misappropriation of funds from happening” she said, adding a tenure should not exceed 10 years.
She added another measure that could help weed out corruption within an organisation was by making asset declaration compulsory.
“We have been always advocating for top ranking officials, including Cabinet ministers, to declare their assets publicly. That way, it would be transparent to all if one’s wealth is accumulated in a disorderly fashion,” she said.