9 Penang JPJ officers to face 162 bribery charges tomorrow

A section of the Penang JPJ enforcement officers during their remand hearing in April. (Bernama pic.)

GEORGE TOWN: Nine officers from the Road Transport Department (JPJ) in Penang are expected to be charged with 162 counts of receiving bribes by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) tomorrow.

The nine are among some 70 officers arrested by the MACC in their probe into a lorry driver protection racket, which grabbed the headlines over the past few months.

They had been placed under suspension for two months a week before Ramadan and will continue to be suspended pending the disposal of their trial, an earlier news report said.

A Penang MACC spokesperson would only say the nine JPJ officers would be brought to the Special Sessions Court (Corruption Cases) at the Butterworth court complex tomorrow morning.

However, a well-informed source said they are likely to be low-level officers who acted as “middlemen” in the case, holding government pay grades of N19 to 32.

The source said the ringleaders are likely to be those holding higher management ranks.

A total of 75 of the 139 state JPJ enforcement officers were called in for questioning after they were suspected of receiving monthly bribes amounting from RM10,000 to RM32,000 to protect lorry drivers and companies from various offences, especially overloading.

A special sticker prepared by “tontos” (middlemen) were placed on these lorries to indicate that they were “paid customers” of the racket.

These tontos also alerted the lorry drivers of roadblocks mounted by JPJ ahead of time.

Earlier reports said the blitz against the enforcement officers had “paralysed” the operations of Penang JPJ, and staff from the Perak office had to be called in to help.

Besides the 139 enforcement officers, Penang JPJ has 318 other staff.