Scrutiny of immigration and national registration departments is necessary

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Department heads must be told plainly to accept full responsibility in future for any failure within their departments, Patriot writes.

The spate of arrest of immigration officers by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is a cause for concern.

On 20 November, four persons, including an immigration officer, linked to a trafficking ring involving China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh foreign workers, were arrested. Cash of more than RM800,000, 26 luxury cars and four high-powered motorcycles were confiscated.

Three days earlier, there was also a report on the arrest by the MACC of 27 immigration officers and 19 civilians for a similar offence carried out at various immigration offices throughout the country. It was reported that a fee of RM500 to as high as RM6,000 was charged for each foreign worker, depending on the service required.

In early February this year, six men including a Penang state Immigration Department officer was arrested for staging a robbery in Bukit Mertajam.

The large number of arrests is an indication of the inherent weakness in the management, operation and control of the Immigration Department. It also reflects poorly on the leadership of the department who should know that their job demands strict compliance to departmental rules and procedures.

It is unbelievable that such many recalcitrant officers had been allowed to carry out their illegal activities over a year, unnoticed by their superiors, unless the superiors are themselves a party to the illegal activity.

In September 2019, the country was shaken by the arrest of 20 National Registration Department officers in Penang for selling Malaysian identification documents to foreigners fees ranging from RM100,000 to RM600,000. It was reported that the assistant director of the department in the state was involved. Little is known of the outcome of the investigation, and whether court charges had been filed against the perpetrators.

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The Immigration Department and the National Registration Department are two critical departments that must come under scrutiny by the relevant investigating and security agencies of the government. Any illegal activity carried out by officials of the two agencies is tantamount to treason, and it is paramount that the government adopts zero tolerance to any such activities in the future.

Patriot urges the government to undertake a complete revamp of both the departments, and that department heads must be told plainly they are to accept full responsibility and accountability in the future for any failure within their department.

Retired Brigadier General Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji is president of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot)

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