TI-M urges PM to address threats to our national security in Eastern Sabah caused by Corruption

PRESS STATEMENT, 9 June 2014, Kuala Lumpur – Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) notes with concern the Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s statement that corruption and leakages are among the causes of continued intrusions in the 1,400km coastal areas of Sabah under the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom). TI-M supports the Defence Minister in calling for an urgent need to address these weaknesses after reviewing Esscom’s roles and functions to strengthen maritime security in the eastern part of Sabah covering four (4) perspectives namely software, hardware, human resources, and intelligence.

TI-M strongly believes that national security must not be compromised at any cost, let alone by corruption in any form. All enforcement agencies under Esscom must work closely and together to fight against not only corruption but also to protect and defend our sovereignty against intrusions. Integrity amongst these enforcement agencies must never be compromised?

Equally alarming is the recent report that smuggling of contraband cigarettes from neighbouring countries such as Philippines and Indonesia has caused the Malaysian government to lose as much as RM1.0 billion in unpaid import, excise and sales taxes. Could it be that local and regional terrorist organizations are getting funding through these organised crimes such as thriving illicit cigarette business and lost taxes?

TI-M calls upon the MACC to act immediately, quickly and thoroughly to investigate any proof presented by the Defence Minister and Esscom that hints at corrupt practices. TI-M further calls for the immediate removal of personnel involved to nip corruption in the bud.

TI-M strongly urges the Prime Minister to address with urgency issues of low integrity, graft and information leaks amongst security and defence personnel. TI-M also calls for investigations to be conducted transparently and the public be updated of the outcome as a threat to national security is a matter of public interest.

It is time for Members of Parliament from both sides of the political divide to further strengthen their oversight of the country’s defense budget and focus on tightening the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the procurement of defense equipment. In order to achieve greater transparency with the purchase of defense equipment, TI-M recommends that the Ministry of Defense SOP for equipment procurement be based on open tenders.

In the previously released Transparency International Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index, Malaysia’s band ranking went from “D” (High) to “F” (Very High) with a score of 25.14% in a 6-band rank amongst 21 countries which exhibit “Very High” risk of corruption under TI-UK Defense and Security Project 2013. The other countries in the same band as Malaysia are Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, China, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Palestine, Pakistan, Rwanda, Singapore, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

“Defence sector corruption is dangerous in that it undermines military effectiveness and the purchase of poor equipment places the lives of troops at risk. Corruption is also divisive
because it destroys trust in government and the armed forces, and between personnel. Moreover, it is wasteful given that billions of dollars of public money is lost” said Dato’ Akhbar Satar, president of TI Malaysia.

TI-M will cooperate with all parties including MACC, AGC, NKRA for Anti-Corruption and the Prime Minister’s Department to work on finding solutions to this issue.

 
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Note to Editors: For clarification on any and all official statements from Transparency International – Malaysia (TI-M), kindly refer to its current President, Dato’ Akhbar Satar who is the official spokesperson for TI-M. Dato Akhbar Satar can be reached at : HP: 017-256 0811 or akhbar@transparency.org.my

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