12 May 2017
Anti-graft officers on Monday arrested an immigration officer for taking bribes amounting to $6 million for granting work permits to 18,000 skilled and professional foreign workers. They also seized $570,000 in cash and luxury items from him. He collected RM 1,500 (US$ 345) per work pass.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has also sought remand orders from a court to detain two contractors, who are believed to be linked to the case. These two has acted as proxy for the immigration officer, and held some of the luxury assets. Total of five have been detained in respect of this case.
The immigration officer was based at the headquarters of the immigration department in Putrajaya last year. He was later transferred to northern Perlis state. He was getting a monthly salary of around $1,000.
This is not a high-level bribe case. Bribes at low level can be pervasive. We do not know how long this officer was able to operate his scheme. But it must have gone on undetected for a long time. Similar low level bribery is going on in various government departments. When there is corruption at high level, it is difficult to eradicate corruption at low level.
Most of the workers are unskilled and poor. They borrow money to pay for their passage, pay fees to a recruiting agent and get an employment. Probably their first-year savings will go to pay the borrowed money. It is mind blowing to think how the helpless foreign workers are being exploited.