IN a select committee’s public hearing on the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) yesterday in Penang, a police officer spilled the beans on the reason there is corruption in the force. He was more or less saying that corruption is “necessary” to make up for the money the officers have to fork out of their own pockets for office supplies and other items that they need to do their work.
He said that police officers are given just one ream of A4 paper each month for their work, and that for each police report lodged, three copies of the report have to be printed. So the ream does not last a month and they have to buy additional paper with their own money. Similarly when the printer ink runs out, they have to purchase it. When the air-con breaks down, again they spend their own money to get them repaired.
Police vehicles are not in good condition. Some leak in the rain and the vans sometimes stall on the roads and have to be pushed.
What a revelation this was! And he went on to say that if the police officers didn’t have to purchase additional office supplies or pay for repairs in the office with their own money, there would be no reason for corruption.
The auditor general should tell us whether the police is given an adequate allocation for office supplies and repairs. If yes, then where is the money going? Are office supplies being purchased at exorbitant prices by some “stupid” people? A former chief of the anti-corruption agency had said he could not take action against government officers who paid exorbitant prices for procurement because that was the work of “stupid” people and stupidity is not an offence!
The revelation made by the officer is very serious.
Does the MACC still hold that no action can be taken against public servants who pay exorbitant prices for procurement by their departments as doing so is an act of stupidity and stupidity is not an offence? If so, it should explain this stand with sound reasons, and the Public Service Commission should explain the employment of “stupid” people responsible for spending public money.
If the MACC no longer holds that view, then this revelation should be investigated thoroughly. It is difficult to believe that the police is not being given adequate funds for carrying out their work.
The MACC investigation should cover all enforcement agencies to see whether officers have to spend their own money on things like stationary and other office supplies to carry out their work, thus pushing them into “justifiable corruption” to recover such expenditure.
*Ravinder Singh reads The Malaysian Insight.