144 held for accepting RM 1 mil bribes
One hundred and forty-four people have been arrested in the country for accepting bribes amounting to RM 1 million in the first three months of this year. Of the number, 48 have been charged in the court. And between January and March this year, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has seized a total of RM900,000 worth of properties which were believed acquired through corrupt practices. ACA Director General Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan said they were currently in the process of forfeiting the rights of property ownership worth RM700,000 and 357 investigation papers were opened from the 3,834 pieces of information received. “In between the period, a total of 79 people had lodged reports to the ACA,” he told reporters after a dinner in conjunction with a bilateral meeting between the ACA and their Brunei counterparts here on Wednesday. The three-day meeting aims at formulating a move to enable bilateral cooperation to combat corruption. Ahmad Said added that ACA arrested 591 offenders last year, compared to only 430 people in 2000, while cases charged in court also increased from 471 cases in 2000 to 691 cases last year. The 78 per cent conviction rate of cases last year is the highest in the ACA history, compared to only 51 per cent in 2004. ACA also recorded a hike in the number of information received from 11,413 in 2000 to 12,407 last year. Following the reports lodged, the Agency opened 1,365 investigation papers last year, compared to 1,317 in 2006. The Malaysian International Transparency Corruption Perception Index had also gone up to 5.1 per cent last year (43rd spot among 180 countries), which is an improvement compared to only five per cent (44th placing from 163 countries) in 2006. State ACA Director Latifah Mohd Yatim, who was also present, disclosed that 17 people, including four from the professional sector, were arrested by the ACA between January and March this year. Three others were support staff while the rest were members of the public. “We recorded 74 cases in the first three months and most of them were charged under various sections for either giving or accepting bribes. There were some who were charged for abuse of power,” she said. Latifah stressed that the latest cases involved an education officer and a police sergeant. The education officer was charged for 11 corruption cases involving RM105,900, and has at least 10 more pending cases, while the police sergeant was caught red-handed receiving a RM300 bribe from a traffic offender. “In most of the cases, we would be tipped off by the public. Therefore we hope that they would continue to come forward and provide us with information,” she said. Latifah added that the ACA appreciated the public’s cooperation. “This shows they are responsible citizens and would like to fight against corruption. Without them, we would not be able to curb the problem effectively,” she added.