(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The announcement by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) director-general, Datuk Ahmad Zaki Husin yesterday that the ACA would launch a week-long nationwide operation on Monday to locate the 100,000 holders of illegally-obtained driving licences is a breach of ACA undertaking of a 30-day grace period until Sept. 26 for the surrender of the fake licences.
The ACA has repeatedly given the public assurance that action will not be taken against those who surrender their licences voluntarily before the grace period is over, and that those who fail to do so will have the face the consequences.
The ACA has also declared that the agency has the full details, including the addresses, names and identity card numbers of the 100,000 fake driving licence holders and that the next action after the expiry of the 30-day grace period will be to publish their names in the newspapers if they had not surrendered themselves.
Under these circumstances, the launching of a nation-wide campaign on Monday to locate the 100,000 "flying licences" is inconsistent with the ACA’s earlier announcements and it should be deferred till after the expiry of the 30-day grace period on Sept. 26.
In this connection, as a further incentive to encourage public co-operation, the ACA and the Road Transport Department (RTD) should work out a crash programme where those who come forward to surrender their fake licences would be able to undergo proper driving tests within a week and to be issued with proper driving licences if found qualified and competent drivers.
I commend the ACA for breaking the "flying licences" scam involving the issue of invalid licences to some 100,000 motorists who paid between RM450 and RM1,550 to avoid sitting for oral and written tests, operated by a syndicate in north Perak for the past five years and which had raked in more than RM40 million since 1995.
However, while commending the ACA for its success in breaking the RTD scam, it must be prepared to accept public criticisms, not only about its failures in many long-outstanding high-profile corruption cases - as the four police reports lodged by former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim naming names and giving specific particulars about corruption in high political and government circles - but also about the ACA handling of the RTD corruption.
Firstly, DAP Deputy Secretary-General, M. Kula Segaran, had asked a very pertinent question as to why the ACA had failed to act to prevent corruption in the Perak RTD at the earliest available opportunity, when way back in 1995, the press had already reported such RTD scams.
The then Perak ACA acting director Chuah Chang Man was reported by the Sun (9.7.1995) as saying that
It is most unfortunate as well as a poor reflection on the ACA that it has taken five years to expose the scam, when prompt ACA action in 1995 would have saved thousands of lives (5,791 were killed in 223,116 traffic accidents last year) and multi-billion ringgit of losses (every death by reason of an accident costs a loss of RM750,000 to society) - a sober reminder of the high costs to society at the failures of ACA.
Can the Malaysian public expect a response from Ahmad Zaki as to why the ACA had failed to act effectively to stamp out the Perak RTD scam of fake driving licences five years ago when it had already publicly surfaced as a scandal?
Secondly, the lack of accountability for the 100,000 RTD fake licence scam involving RM40 million rip-off. Zaki had himself said: