People have the power to question mischievous officials
by : M. KRISHNAMOORTHY from Petaling Jaya
We always seem to ask what the MalaysianAntiCorruptionCommission (MACC) or the Government is doing tofight corruption while not realising that therewe can take steps on our own. Yes, it is time the man on the street realises that he can take the bull by the horns and demand for justice and efficiency.
However, before embarking on such a mission, it is important to be clear on your rights and know the facts. Let me give you an example of how I used this doityourself approach to help a friendrenew his business licence.
Recently, an engineer friend of mine told me that he had applied for a business licence renewal through a runner as he did not have the time to go through the process personally. However, after eight weeks, there was still no news, and’his wife, who ran the business, was afraid that they would be operating without the licence.
According to my friend, the runner had told him that the delay was because no “undertable” payment had been made to expedite the renewal process. However, the engineer felt this was unnecessary as it was just a simple renewal. “I am afraid that if I make a fuss, I might be penalised by the council.
“According to my runner, the officials in question would not settle for anything less than RM500,” my friend told me when he appealed for my help, knowing that I had assisted other friends in similar situations.
As I am a firm believer in two principles —
“Love all, serve all” and “Service to man is service to God” 1 could not refuse and followed the engineer to the licensing office. At the counter, I asked why the renewal had taken more than two months when it would normally take less than two weeks.
I also raised my voice and asked the receptionist, “One runner told me you want some extra money before approving the application. Is this true?” The receptionist denied that any such request had been made, and I further queried why it
had taken so long, especially since Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had called on public servants to respond to complaints within three days. The receptionist said she would check on the matter and returned 10 minutes later, saying that she could not locate the original application.
Since 1 had feared this would happen, 1 was prepared and told her that we had all the paperwork with us. She filed our application and said the authorities would make an appointment to inspect the premises within a week to ensure compliance
with the conditions of the licence.
My friend and I were happy as we thought that the problem had been solved. However, the following day, the engineer told me that his runner had said certain officials were asking for kickbacks before issuing any approval. I immediately told him that we would be visiting the council again.
This time, I did not mince my words as I said to the clerk, “Do you need any extra money for the approval? “If you do, please tell me who wants it and I will report the name to your superiors!” The clerk insisted that no extra “payment” was required and introduced us to another officer.
“We will not have to come to your premises for an inspection and your application has been approved. If you wait for a short while, we will give you the new licence,” the new officer told us. Within 15 minutes, my friend’s licence was renewed, at no extra cost While it may seem like a small victory, it contains lessons for everyone on how to tackle corruption.
We should take the initiative to question the authorities if there is any delay. We must know the deadlines set out in the authority’s client charter and use this as an indication of untoward delays.
At the end of the day, all government departments carry out their own internal audits and if we, as consumers, highlight our difficulties, any wrongdoing will come to light, providing a check in the system. We must be brave and willing to question the authorities.
We must be proactive and take the initiative to ensure that we do not fall for underhanded dealings. It is because of fear that we become victims of corruption.
So, pick up you courage, know your rights and the facts and question the authorities in your own personal fight against corruption.