(File pix) Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad . (pix by AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR)

RECENTLY, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad called for the public to report corruption, and become the eyes and ears of the commission.

MACC launched a programme called Sahabat SPRM to increase public participation in the campaign against corruption. This is a positive development in the war against corruption.

Fighting corruption is an essential part of any government’s ambitious plan to transform the nation and accelerate economic growth.

The goals are to restore public trust, ensure good governance, encourage investor confidence and provide a fair marketplace and competitive platform.

However, the fight against corruption cannot be won without citizens’ support, participation and vigilance.

The media, civic and business associations, trade unions as well as other non-governmental actors play crucial roles in fostering public discussion of corruption and increasing awareness about its negative impact.

In the past years, we have witnessed reforms to intensify the fight against corruption.

For example, fighting corruption has been made a National Key Performance Indicator, which is a clear indication of how serious we are about eradicating corruption.

The Corporate Integrity Pledge is one of the government’s initiatives to solicit greater cooperation and participation from the private sector in the fight against corruption.

The Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 represents a new piece of legislation protecting the rights and identities of persons who report instances of corruption.

To expedite the hearing and disposal of corruption cases, corruption courts have been established in cities and towns. Recently, MACC launched a toll-free number to enable the public to report corruption.

However, these structural and cultural reforms must also be made known to residents in rural areas through education, public awareness and capacity building.

Otherwise, rural residents will remain in the dark over anti-corruption measures and their implementation.

Transparency International spoke to 21,861 people in 16 countries, regions and territories across the Asia-Pacific region between July 2015 and January this year about their perception and experience of corruption.

The report estimated that more than 900 million people in the 16 surveyed places had paid a bribe in the past year when trying to access basic services like education or healthcare.

Bribery rates for countries varied considerably across the region, from 0.2 per cent in Japan to 69 per cent in India.

The report stated that in some countries, like India, the bribery rate was very high, but citizens were fairly positive about government efforts to fight corruption and a clear majority felt they could make a difference in the fight against corruption.

In contrast, South Korea had a very low bribery rate, but citizens were critical of government efforts to fight corruption.

Rural residents can contribute to the detection and prevention of corruption.

There is a need for more programmes like Sahabat SPRM in rural areas to educate residents and garner their support for the war against corruption.

For my part, to increase the awareness of rural residents about anti-corruption measures, along with concerned residents of Hutan Melintang, we launched the “Hutan Melintang Corruption-Free” campaign in Bagan Datuk, Perak, from July 1 to 3.

This campaign was an initiative for citizens to assist MACC combat corruption in Hutan Melintang.

Under this campaign, 45 business premises exhibited the “Hutan Melintang Corruption- Free” message.

The MACC toll-free number to report corruption was also given to business owners.

The feedback obtained from business owners was positive and the citizens of Hutan Melintang are ready to give their support and commitment.

Residents in rural areas are ready to support MACC in the war against corruption.

We just have to reach out to them.

DR M. SARAVANABAVAN

Hutan Melintang, Perak

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