Nazri Aziz – the defective law minister

By Mariam Mokhtar, FMT

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Nazri Aziz said that the government was serious in fighting corruption and announced the latest Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) initiative whereby taxi drivers would become mini-ambassadors and informers on behalf of the MACC.

He added that if the information the cabbies supplied was successful in securing arrests and convictions, they could also be rewarded for their efforts.

Nazri said: “The government is committed to battling corruption through its transformation plan by establishing a National Key Results Area for corruption and reducing corruption via increased enforcement and prevention, while improving the people’s perception of the government’s and public services’ integrity.”

The campaign was launched by Nazri at the MACC’s Hari Raya Aidil Fitri open house on Sept 13. He said that over 30,000 taxi drivers would be the MACC’s informers and that around 200 taxi drivers operating in the Klang Valley would start the campaign.

Why does Nazri participate in another thoughtless measure rather than confront the problem of corruption head-on? Nazri, who is also the de facto Law Minister, should perhaps be reassigned the title “Defective Law Minister”.

It is possible he is taking his cue from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and also the former PMs who only pay lip service, when it comes to tackling corruption.

It appears that this latest measure to raise the public’s awareness, increase their responsibility, and hence engage the community in fighting corruption was the brainchild of the MACC.

According to Nazri, cab drivers made ideal informers because they would pick up information as they talked with their passengers.

Perhaps Nazri could tell us how many high-ranking politicians ever use cabs? These representatives of the people are some of those who are allegedly most corrupt. The big fish allegedly involved in corruption are driven around in chauffeur-driven cars.

He said: “They (the taxi drivers) are at the frontline of the tourism industry as they are the first group to interact with overseas tourists.

“They can be considered the country’s duta kecil (mini ambassadors) in disseminating information (about the country). Therefore, programmes like this are needed.

“They can be our whistleblower and can play the rôle as deliverer of information to MACC. We expect them to play a crucial rôle. I believe that after this, MACC will brief NGOs and government agencies and may even train them because we are serious in enlisting their help to fight graft.”

The MACC chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed also said: “Taxi drivers will be MACC’s eyes and ears in reporting corruption. They pick up a lot of information from passengers’ conversations, or might even witness corrupt transactions in their taxis.”

Public being ripped off

When did Nazri and Abu Kassim last take a taxi? The last time I did, I was ripped off going from Medan Gopeng to my home which is just around the corner. The journey of 2.3km took less than five minutes but cost me RM30. The bus fare from KL to Ipoh was less than this last step of the journey.

Do these men not realise that the public is constantly being ripped off by errant taxi drivers and that passengers, especially tourists, are at their mercy?

Taxi drivers, their companies and the government agency under which taxis come, should be among the people to be investigated for corrupt practices. The drivers fleece the public with expensive fares, they refuse to use the meter and many of the vehicles they operate are unsafe.

The latest taxi I travelled in was not working, the boot would not shut and my suitcase balanced precariously on top of the taxi driver’s effects, which took up most of the space in the boot. The taxi was filthy and the driver refused to use the meter. He told me I could be dropped by the roadside if “kamu tidak suka”.

The belligerent attitude of some of our taxi drivers is similar to that of our politicians.

If Nazri were to read the newspapers, especially the mainstream media, he might realise the number of complaints which passengers, especially tourists, make against taxi drivers. The ambassadorial rôle played by the taxi drivers would drive tourists away.

As it is, locals have given up complaining as they do not see any action forthcoming from the authorities.

Taxi drivers, just like politicians, are a law unto themselves. There are also allegations that the taxi companies are controlled by corrupt politicians.

Why should Nazri and the MACC waste more taxpayers’ money on idiotic schemes? Why should we waste more of the public purse paying for the salaries of these dim-witted ministers and heads of public institutions?