The level of corruption involving enforcement personnel at the country’s frontlines is becoming chronic and worrisome, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy chief commissioner (operations) Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya said yesterday.
Khusairi said the influx of illegal immigrants, workers and students in the country was viewed as a big opportunity for a minority of unethical enforcement personnel to secure bribes.
He said it did not matter if the foreigner had a work permit or student visa, what more those without documents, they were still targeted by enforcement personnel.
"This is what is happening, and gives a very bad image to Malaysia," he said in a statement, adding that the slogan "Malaysia Boleh" was often used as a cynical criticism implying that everything is possible with a bribe.
"So it’s not surprising that Malaysia has become a focus for foreign workers looking for work, a drug transit in the Southeast Asian region, an international scam and fake investment centre, as well as a haven for online gambling, Macau scams and international prostitution.
"We often deny and ignore reality, looking for excuses," he said.
Khusairi said the most common comment about corruption among enforcement personnel was that it was "an isolated incident".
However, he said this could no longer be used as an excuse to deny the reality of how rampant it was among enforcement personnel.
He added that corruption had permeated every inch of foreign workers’ lives in the country, including the process of applying for foreign worker quotas by companies.
"To secure this quota, companies are forced to pay bribes to ensure their approval in terms of the number of foreign workers allowed to be brought in," he said.
Besides this, he said bribing enforcement personnel occurred at the country’s entry points to speed up the entry and exit of foreign workers who overstayed, or were involved in crime, blacklisted, or did not fulfil entry requirements.
He added that corruption also occurred in the misuse of foreign student visas for work and business, as well as unsavoury activities such as prostitution, massage parlours, gambling and Macau scams, most of which rely on foreign workers, and the act of protecting such operations.
"These are among the offences linked to foreign workers in the country. Indirectly, it also creates opportunity and room for enforcement personnel to receive bribes on a small scale, monthly basis or as part of a syndicate," he said.