Monday, June 23, 2014

Malaysia: Update--Defense Minister Acknowledges Corruption at the Heart of Making Money in Sabah

According to the Malaysian-based The Star, there are increasingly cross-border kidnappings that suggest that police corruption in the east coast of Sabah is not only feasible, but an opportunity for those willing to take a risk, to augment their meager wages.

As most of our readers fully understand, Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein himself admitted recently that corruption and a very porous and expansive border facilitates those willing to succumb to to temptation.

Sabah east coasters speak freely acknowledge smugglers greasing the palms of government officials to bring in “cargo” ranging from drugs to illegal immigrants.

A boat operator said the monthly payment for hassle-free smuggling could reach RM20,000 (US$6,220.00) a month. 

The smuggler, who is a Malaysian of Filipino origin, said the kidnap groups had productive links with many Malaysian officials in Sabah.

The illicit cross-border trade provides ample opportunities for corrupt personnel in the Customs and Immigration departments, local governments, police and marine units who manage and facilitate trade in the 1,770 kilometer (1,099.8-mile) open-sea border.

COMMENT:  Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar welcomed the move to place Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers in the Esszone. 

“We will give our full cooperation to the MACC ... If it is true that corruption among the various agencies is a reason for kidnappings in Sabah, then let the MACC investigate and take action,” Khalid said during a recent visit to Sabah.

The fight against corruption in Sabah’s east coast is really an uphill battle, yet the graft must be stopped, say some. 

Conversely, those in the know, including those that understand the "ins and outs" of regional security vulnerabilities, understand how not to get caught.