The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has arrested 21 farmers in Cameron Highlands who attempted to bribe enforcement personnel to keep their illegal activities under wraps.
MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Mohd Shukri Abdull said the farmers, aged between 20 and 68, were nabbed under the 'Ops Sejuk' operation undertaken by the MACC in cooperation with the National Security Council.
The illegal activities of the farmers included illegal land clearing; violation of the temporary occupation licence; sheltering illegal immigrants and having in their possession unscheduled poisons," he said in a statement today.
The arrests involved cases of corruption that occurred in Ringlet (involving nine people); Kampung Raja (six); Tringkap (two); Tanah Rata (one); Brinchang(one); Kuala Terlah (one) and Kampar (one).
Mohd Shukri said 16 of them were arrested at their premises while five surrendered themselves to the Perak MACC office, two of them this morning.
Citing an example, he said an arrested 42-year-old Bangladesh national is believed to have lived in the country for 10 years, had interest in a company in Cameron Highlands to the tune of RM500,000 and owned a new Toyota Camry car.
"Farmers active in an area of more than 41 hectares were found to have paid bribes amounting to as much as RM30,000," he said.
Mohd Shukri said those arrested had been released on bail of RM5,000 each in one surety.
He also said that the MACC only conducted investigation in terms of offences pertaining to corruption while the issue of illegal exploitation of land and illegal immigrants came under the purview of other agencies.
"This issue has been there for years and firmer action has to be taken by the relevant enforcement agencies," he said.
Mohd Shukri said the MACC was prepared to share information with other agencies to ensure that the problem was totally eliminated.