The recent arrest of immigration officers by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Comission under anti-corruption charges is the tip of the iceberg of Malaysia’s corruption problem. Bribery frequently occurs to work around the enforcement of excessive, time-consuming and obsolete regulations.
Empirical evidence highlights strong co-relation between excessive regulation and corruption. Excessive regulation under the License Raj regime was the reason India became extremely corrupt within a decade. Meanwhile, Singapore saw a steep drop in corruption after the “War on Regulations” which eliminated obsolete over-regulation during the late 60s.
Malaysia needs to rethink all of its regulations to decouple the business-bureaucracy nexus and curb “street corruption”. One example of street corruption is Malaysian driver’s bribing Road Transport Department (JPJ) officers at roadblocks for expired road tax and/or drivers licenses.
Imagine if Malaysia issued lifetime driving licenses and lifetime road tax stickers (20 years). The government could collect the lifetime road tax (20 years) during the purchase of the car itself. Henceforth, there is no need for JPJ to have multiple front desks and roadblocks. This would eliminate street corruption by JPJ officers at the roadblocks.
Critics may argue that the road tax is indication of insurance renewal, but manufacturers could equip the car with a lifetime (20 years) insurance itself. This may raise the car prices up-front, but the period of car loans could be increased. Besides, buying and selling second-hand cars will be more efficient with the all-inclusive price and would involve less hassle.
Reforming the intake of migrant workers by consolidating all workers’ affairs with the Ministry of Human Resources would severely reduce corruption among immigration officers. It is an open secret that migrant workers’ regulation is big money for the Immigration Department. However, Putrajaya refused to disclose or execute recommendations outlined in the migrant workers reform report.
Another example of obsolete regulation is the purchase of “Setem Hasil” to apply for electricity and water connections. This regulation is the prime reason Malaysians cannot fully apply for electricity and water connections online. There may not be any corruption involved for acquiring utilities connections but this is another example of obsolete regulation still in practice.
Putrajaya needs to focus on reducing or eliminating excessive and obsolete regulations which are a source of annoyance for people and corruption for enforcement officers. Street corruption and the business-bureaucracy nexus will continue to bleed our society dry if this root cause is not tackled.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
Parti Sosialis Malaysia Negeri Melaka (PSM Melaka)