16 July 2008

Squad to weed out corrupt Customs staff


PUTRAJAYA: They are going to be faceless, moving among colleagues. They are members of the Special Investigations Unit, formed to weed out corrupt officers in the Customs Department.

To be operational next month, this unit will be working with the Anti-Corruption Agency, which will also have its personnel working undercover at key operational posts in the Customs Department.

This elaborate set-up, the brainchild of Customs director-general Datuk Seri Abd Rahman Abd Hamid, will identify corrupt officers whose names will be put on a database for all to see.

Abd Rahman said officers of the unit would investigate irregularities committed by Customs personnel, regardless of their rank.

"These officers will be working undercover and will be based in the states, ports and other critical areas.

"We also have an arrangement with the ACA where their officers will also go undercover as Customs officers and be deployed at strategic locations."

He said details and particulars of officers under investigation will be kept in a database for evaluation by senior Customs officers.

"The particulars of those convicted of corruption will also be placed in the database which will be accessible to all."
Abd Rahman said the government had allocated about RM13 million for the system.

Another measure implemented to fight graft is the transfer of personnel to ensure they did not remain at one place for too long.

"More than 100 officers were transferred just a few days ago," he said, adding that the public had appreciated the department's fight against corruption, with more people coming forward with information.

"I have been receiving lots of text messages and calls lately."

Abd Rahman said since he took over as director-general, he had made it known to his staff that graft would not be tolerated.

"I know these measures are making me very unpopular but there will be no compromise."

Abd Rahman said the World Customs Organisation director of capacity building would study the department's procedures and other aspects to determine the level of integrity and commitment among the staff.

"Malaysia, as chairman of the WCO integrity committee, has no problems in complying with the international requirements."

On an unrelated matter, Abd Rahman said all 3,661 major oil palm planters would be required to register their operations at the nearest Customs office as required under Section 8 of the Windfall Profit Levy Act 1998.

From today, oil palm smallholders with plantations of less than 40.5ha are no longer subjected to the windfall profit levy. The government decided that crude palm oil and crude palm kernel oil producers are to be exempted from paying the levy.

It was also decided that from today, the windfall profit levy will be collected at the plantations, based on the output of fresh fruit bunches.

The levy rates remain unchanged and it must be paid on or before the 14th of every month.

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