'Poison-pen' busts corruption!
Anonymous so-called "poison-pen" letters are helping Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Agency crackdown on graft. The letters are a feature of Malaysia's political landscape, allowing anonymous writers to vent allegations against officials and political opponents without the fear of being revealed.india Updated: Nov 03, 2005 18:07 IST
Anonymous so-called "poison-pen" letters are helping Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Agency crackdown on graft, a report said on Tuesday.
Used to tarnish reputations, the letters are a feature of Malaysia's political landscape, allowing anonymous writers to vent allegations against officials and political opponents without the fear of being revealed. But some of them have proved beneficial, with 31.46 per centof information used in anti-corruption investigations in 2004 coming from poison-pen letters, agency director Zakaria Jaafar said.
"We receive a lot of information in the form of poison-pen letters, without the senders' signatures. However, ACA officers will study the contents of the letters. If there are grounds for investigation, we will investigate," Zakaria told the state Bernama news agency.
Zakaria said they were investigated if they contained allegations of corruption, graft or abuse of power. And he urged letter writers with such claims to provide as much detail as possible.
"It will be more helpful if the letters contained particulars like the date, time and place of the alleged incident, witnesses, references on related documents, the amount of money or goods involved and the service rendered," he said.
"Likewise information like identification numbers, vehicle registration numbers, receipt numbers and account numbers can help us in the investigation."
While letters had been useful for investigators, Zakaria said he encouraged people to first lodge corruption complaints through official means.Analysts and commentators have long criticised the use of such letters in Malaysian politics.
In the most recent case, politicians from the Malaysian Chinese Association and Gerakan parties, both in the ruling National Front coalition, sent out poison-pen letters to party members about each other before internal party polls in August.
Poison pen letters also famously sparked former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim's downfall. Anonymous letters alleging sexual misconduct were circulated about Anwar in 1997, more than a year before he was sacked by then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.
He was subsequently jailed on corruption and sodomy charges but released last year after the sodomy conviction was overturned.