Recently, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) arrested and remanded a number of Road Transport Department (JPJ) enforcement officers in Penang for allegedly receiving illicit monthly payments as an inducement not to take action against lorry drivers and transport companies who committed traffic offences.
As reported in the media, the payment was also for tip-offs which the companies and drivers received to alert them to JPJ operations.
If true, the situation is revolting and unacceptable. Many questions need to be addressed by the authorities, including policymakers. The people want to know the steps taken by them following the spate of arrests of both JPJ personnel and middlemen.
Based on the current scenario, honest and law-abiding citizens assume that the probability of corruption among JPJ personnel must be extensive and that the concept of integrity may be lacking in their work culture and norms.
Furthermore, fatal road accidents are a major factor for the nation’s high mortality rate. Most of the victims are aged between 15 and 40 years. Many of us wonder if corruption and misconduct by JPJ personnel both directly and indirectly contribute to this unwarranted problem.
Among the questions that need urgent answers regarding the high-profile JPJ scandal are:
- Are corruption and misconduct prevalent among enforcement and non-enforcement personnel?
- Are corruption and misconduct also prevalent at other state JPJ offices?
- Are JPJ personnel responsible for serious and fatal accidents on the road, both directly and indirectly, due to any involvement in corrupt acts and misconduct?
- How stringent is the selection process of recruits, especially for the enforcement division?
- What kind of training do new JPJ enforcement officers undergo?
What kind of retraining programmes are available for existing enforcement officers?
- Do bureaucratic issues and standard operating procedures regarding enforcement encourage acts of corruption and misconduct?
These questions are not necessarily comprehensive but will help to address some of the major issues concerning JPJ.
Our policymakers must realise that because of this scandal, the public may now feel more vulnerable to being victims of road accidents, including fatal cases, as a result of the backlash.
It is hoped that this temporary lack of enforcement by JPJ personnel will not lead to an increase of road-unworthy vehicles, especially lorries and motorcycles, and bad drivers.
In most cases, corruption prevails because of greed and zero integrity among those on the take. It is time to act against corrupt JPJ officers without mercy. They can be replaced regardless of rank.
Society needs JPJ officers who are not involved in corruption and misconduct to speak up. MACC must also stringently and continuously monitor the department as the recent bust clearly illustrates that it is not an isolated case but an epidemic.
P Sundramoorthy is a member of the Research Team on Crime and Policing at Universiti Sains Malaysia.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.