Malaysiakini News

Seven things to avoid if you are a corrupt public official

Hazlan Zakaria  |  Published:  |  Modified:

SATIRE Now that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has declared all-out war against corrupt public officials, it may be time for those who have crossed the line to watch their step.

If they do not want to have their names decorating the cover page of a charge sheet, and faces plastered all over the press, that is. Short of recanting, repenting, and vowing to change their ways.

As the commission has announced, they will boldly go where no enforcement agency has ever been allowed to go before, and start to take down corrupt and unscrupulous public officials left, right and centre.

They have warned that they will be looking closely at those who goes golfing too frequently overseas, keep mistresses, and generally live beyond their means.

A state water agency director has been caught in the MACC dragnet, so has a ministry secretary-general, and even a serving chief minister. If the remaining corrupt public officials are not careful, they may be next.

Here are seven things they can do, to keep themselves out of the commission's now un-leashed, long arm of the law:

Don’t keep gold bars in your home

It’s a dead giveaway, as most people will keep such valuables in bank safe deposit boxes.

As Tolkien wrote, “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost,” but gold in your home is a sure sign of graft, especially if you cannot explain how you can afford its cost.

And in the same vein, don’t buy too many expensive handbags and jewellery for your wife or expensive watches for yourself. As the Cantonese phrase goes, “man man lei, la”, take it slowly as things go by, or you go bye-bye.

When it comes to bribes, you don’t want to flaunt that you have it.

Don’t keep money in your office cabinet

Or even in your home closet, as with the case of gold bars, most people keep their cash in the bank.

But in the case of money from graft, it should be cleaned first perhaps. As long as it is laundered via a complicated web of shell companies, investments, bank accounts and ‘friendly’ wealth managers, you should do fine.

If worse comes to worst one can always ask a Saudi prince to ‘donate’ the money back into one’s personal account along with an accompanying letter saying that it is an honest donation without any strings attached.

Don’t do small... go big

Most people charged with graft so far are those that snagged below RM100 million or so, if you can keep it in the high RM500 million or RM1 billion or so, you will probably get off the hook.

Of course, better still if you can get say RM2.6 billion or more. For some reason your ability to get away scot-free increases with the value of graft you manage to rake in.

No real estate below market value

If you can help it, don’t purchase real estate or bungalows, palatial or not, at below the market value.

And please don’t use the “willing seller-willing buyer” defence if you get caught doing it. Especially if you can be linked to another transaction that involves the seller or something they may profit from.

You might want to ask former Selangor MB Khir Toyo or current Penang MB Lim Guan Eng how well such a defence goes for them. Khir was put away for it, though Lim may still have a fighting chance.

No exorbitant parties or weddings

They may be for your children, or to celebrate memorable occasions, but the danger is that they may cost more than what you make as a public official in a year.

It would really behooves the question of where you get the dough to pay for it all. Forget the fresh flower bouquet as well, too many of which is also gaudy at best.

No matter how good you are at singing karaoke or dancing.

Don’t travel around in a private jet

Or make use of a government plane as if it is your private plane, along with all your family members, and then embark on expensive holidays and shopping sprees, especially not if it is well-documented in social media or foreign news reports.

You can deny it, or pull a trick like in the movie ‘Now You See Me 2' and make a plane go invisible, but once the cat is out of the bag, it’s difficult to put it back in.

Go slow on luxuries

Don’t buy more than one luxury car, or expensive property at a time. Especially not if you register these in your own name for some reason.

Don’t let your spouse use hairdressing services that cost thousands per visit. It may cause more than one eyebrow to be raised.

Don’t eat meals that cost in the tens of thousands of ringgit in one sitting. What more when the rakyat are suffering.

Don’t keep mistresses, for they are another sure sign of a lavish lifestyle, or so MACC says. Unless you have a surefire explosive way to ensure that there are no traces that can lead back to yourself.

HAZLAN ZAKARIA is a member of the Malaysiakini team.

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