Aug 21, 2013

    KL may tap phones to fight graft

    MALAYSIA may allow phone tapping and Internet monitoring as it steps up the war on corporate and government graft, which costs the country as much as US$9 billion (S$11.5 billion) a year, a minister said.

    It is also planning legislation to make company directors liable for corruption involving staff, and will appoint chief integrity officers in government ministries, said Mr Paul Low, the minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of fighting graft.

    He said that talks on electronic monitoring are in the early stages, and didn't specify how sweeping powers might be or how they might be used.

    "Does Malaysia want to be a failed state or does it want to rise up?" the former country president of Transparency International said in Kuala Lumpur on Monday. "Malaysia has a lot of potential, but hasn't lived up to it."

    The country's move comes amid a global debate over the merits of state-sanctioned snooping, after computer-security contractor Edward Snowden exposed a secret United States government electronic-surveillance programme designed to foil terrorism.

    Prime Minister Najib Razak appointed Mr Low to his Cabinet to lead the war on graft after his government was returned to power in a May election. BLOOMBERG