One of the first things I did in my first year as an elected representative is to give my blessings to enforcement officers of all agencies to perform their duties well in Subang Jaya. I also told them that I will not interfere in their work such as by asking them to reduce or waive summons of legitimate wrongdoing. In assuring them, I noticed that it was as if a weight was lifted from their shoulders. I learnt then that political will or, on the other hand, political interference is a real challenge even at this level.
In the last few months, I heard of increased enforcement of parking offences in business areas, which is a good start. I believe that the same should be done for other matters especially those involving health and safety. Hopefully with this momentum, we will see the same level of enforcement in all areas.
I have had residents requesting that I write them letters for exemption of fines for legitimate offences, but to-date I have not issued a single letter in that respect.
There is however a more recent development made more prominent with increased enforcement, one which I am equally saddened and angered by – the requesting and offering of bribes.
Any member of the public will be quick to say that the problem lies with our enforcement agencies – they should not request bribes in the first place. But let us be reminded that corruption is an ecosystem that requires supply and demand. Those who offer, request and pay bribes are equally wrong.
When we voted for a new Malaysia, most if not all of us wanted a clean country. We were angered by the various examples of grand scheme corruptions. But what about corruption at the most basic level? Should we turn a blind eye just because it involves tens, maybe at most a thousand ringgit? Or are we equally aware that corruption at this level fosters an even larger ecosystem to exist? After all, the officer at the bottom might just be the very person to execute a larger transaction for his/her higher up – ‘it is normal’, they say.
But in this article, I want to highlight two cases in my constituency where two groups of residents, upon our advice, chose to take the fine, and even went the extra mile of lodging reports with the police, and the relevant agencies’ integrity department. ‘We need to make sure that corrupt officers no longer exist in our system. And if we want to see that happen, I need you to use the systems available by lodging the necessary reports.’, I told them. They could have paid the RM150 or RM300 requested and saved the journey of paying the fine, the extra time and stress of lodging reports. But they chose the path of integrity.
And for that, I am grateful. In speaking to them they lamented about how their family and friends frowned upon their decision – calling them foolish. On the contrary, I take the view not paying bribes and lodging reports of corruption should be the norm. The acts of these residents should be lauded.
At present there are systems within agencies to flush out corruption. But what happens beyond these agencies? What about the shop owners without license, the waste company performing illegal dumping, the car driver who double park? Reaching out and curbing corruption outside a controlled system is much more difficult as it requires a culture change.
More stories of integrity need to be told and also more stories condemning corruption as well, as part of an effort to make this a norm.