(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Yesterday, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Ministry, Datuk Dr. Shafie Mohd. Salleh said that applicants for jobs in banks and financial institutions may be required to sit a psychological/personality test under a government effort to reduce white collar crime in the industry which amounts to millions of ringgit a year.
He said Bank Negara will prepare a set of procedures on the proposed test which if adopted, will apply to only new candidates.
White-collar crimes have indeed become a very serious problem in Malaysia, as a total of 5,777 fraud cases had been reported since 1992 - 1,416 cases in 1993, 718 in 1994, 775 in 1995 and 870 cases in the first 11 months of last year.
While the purpose and intention of such a psychological/personality test to reduce the possibility of white-collar crimes is commendable, it must remain dubious whether there could be effective psychological/personality tests which could detect the criminal propensity of a candidate to commit white collar crimes in future.
If there are such psychological/personality tests, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Mentri-Mentri Besar and Chief Ministers should also be required to undergo these tests to reduce the incidence of corruption not only because of the international perception that corruption has become a serious issue in Malaysia, but to demonstrate the governmentís commitment to fight corruption, particularly corruption in high political places.
While the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Parliament yesterday that the Government is providing more funds and manpower to the Anti-Corruption Agency, as well as being in the final stages in the drafting of amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, are welcome, these efforts nonetheless seem too puny, grudging and very late in the day.
The government must show greater commitment in the war against corruption, especially in high political places, and make a special effort to ensure that Malaysia can improve on its position in this yearís Transparency Internationalís (TI) international corruption perception index which would be released in the middle of the year.
There is no doubt that the case of the Selangor Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Muhammad Taib would be a major factor in determining Malaysiaís ranking in the Transparency Internationalís international corruption perception index for 1997, as Muhammad Taibís failure or inability to publicly and satisfactorily account for his various properties in Australia and other wealth running into tens of millions of ringgit would be definite minus points in the ranking of Malaysiaís position in the TI international corruption perception index this year.
For the sake of the international reputation of Malaysia, as well as ensuring that Malaysiaís ranking in the Transparency International international corruption index would not fall even lower than the 1996 and 1995 rankings, Muhammad Taib should resign as Selangor Mentri Besar if he is not prepared or unable to give public and satisfactory accounting for his wealth and properties.