PETALING JAYA: Punishments meted out for those convicted of corruption seem to be influenced by their social status and political hierarchy, an anti-graft activist claimed.
In backing his claim, former Transparency International Malaysia president Akhbar Satar cited several examples of punishment for corruption involving ordinary people and those in high-ranking positions.
In August, he said, a senior federal counsel was jailed for a day and fined RM130,000 for accepting bribes totalling RM700,000.
Yet in June last year, a labourer was jailed for 15 months for stealing “petai”, while an unemployed man was sentenced to 10 months in prison in December for stealing RM50 from a mosque.
Akhbar also pointed to former Selangor menteri besar Mohamad Khir Toyo, who was released on parole halfway through his 12-month jail term in 2015 after being convicted of abusing his power to obtain two plots of land and a bungalow worth RM6.5 million.
Such incidents, he said, would call into question the objectivity of the country’s judiciary.
“A judge is supposed to make decisions based on merit and do so without fear or favour,” he said in a statement.
Akhbar also said the case involving the senior federal counsel highlighted weaknesses in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009.
He said the authorities had the option of charging a suspect under the Penal Code for cheating or criminal breach of trust if they found that the evidence they had did not fulfil the criteria under the MACC Act.
The Penal Code provides for heavier punishments, he said.
Akhbar went on to say that the MACC Act should stipulate a mandatory jail term of two months and a minimum of two strokes of the rotan.
“A heavier penalty, jail term and caning will probably make people more aware that corruption is detrimental to not only the recipient but the entire family.”