JOHOR BARU, Nov 13 — Two Vietnamese boat skippers failed to find the easy way out of their predicament and instead found themselves in the clutches of the law.
A reliable source said the two men were nabbed by Johor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Kluang branch yesterday after offering RM10,000 to a Maritime chief petty officer based in Mersing, while he was on patrol duty off Pulau Harimau.
According to the source, the suspects aged 27 and 28 offered the bribe to persuade the officer to release two Vietnamese boats and refrain from taking action against them for failing to produce the relevant licence for the boats and failing to produce their passports as well as for carrying trawling equipment in the boats.
“The two skippers initially offered RM500 and RM800 to the complainant for the same purpose,” said the source, adding the men were detained at the MACC office in Kluang around 11 pm to facilitate investigations.
The case is being investigated under Section 17(b) of the MACC Act 2009, which provides for a fine of five times the amount of bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher, and jail not exceeding 20 years on conviction.
Meanwhile, Johor MACC director Datuk Azmi Alias when contacted confirmed the duo’s arrest, adding, the suspects would be brought to court today for remand.
MACC and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) had earlier initiated a cooperation network to combat corruption and abuse of power particularly related to encroachment by foreign fishing boats into Malaysia’s waters.
The cooperation based on the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) involved among others, sharing of information between the two agencies.
An operation network dubbed “Ops Armada” was also launched jointly by MACC and MMEA in January this year following the detection of a syndicate.
The syndicate is believed to be using middlemen or ‘runners’ to negotiate with Malaysian enforcement agency personnel to not take action against foreign boats that encroached into the country’s waters to fish illegally off the waters of East Coast Peninsula, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. — Bernama