Malaysia's anti-corruption agency and a non-governmental organisation campaigning for clean elections have warned MPs against accepting bribes to secure their positions, as the country reels from political uncertainty following the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan coalition government.
"There is always a possibility of corruption and bribery taking place in exchange for support amid the current political turmoil in Malaysia, and we are not ruling out this possibility," said Yap Swee Seng, executive director of the prominent Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih).
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Wednesday told MPs it was monitoring the situation.
"Any MP who offers, gives, or receives bribes in any form from parties with vested interest for positions is committing an offence under Section 16 of the MACC Act 2009," Azam Baki, the deputy commissioner (operations) of MACC, was quoted as saying by Bernama.
For now, no such offences involving MPs had been committed, Azam said.
Bersih's Yap called on the public to report any such incidents to the anti-corruption agency.
"It is the right move by MACC to monitor the situation. Anyone who has any information of such conduct committed by MPs should certainly lodge reports to the MACC," said Yap.
Cynthia Gabriel, founder and executive director of the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), said political corruption almost destroyed the nation during the 1MDB financial scandal, and had been breeding over the years under the six-decade rule of the previous Barisan Nasional regime.
"We must check money politics in such a highly volatile situation," said Gabriel, who is a member of the government-appointed 1MDB investigative committee and drafting committee for the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan.
"The alliances also keep shifting according to political developments, and cash could be king, in such a confusing and highly tense scenario," she said.
"The monumental victory during (the general election in May 2018) signalled a great need to shift and make real structural changes in fighting corruption so entrenched through political financing and awarding of contracts, for example," Gabriel said.
Mahathir Mohamad staged a stunning victory with his Pakatan Harapan coalition in the May 2018 polls to topple the Barisan Nasional government on the back of corruption allegations against then-Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Najib was accused of siphoning off billions of dollars from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) sovereign wealth fund. He is currently facing trial for corruption and abuse of power.
"(Corruption) remains a major problem in governance, and directly compromises the effective independence of institutions such as the judiciary, the MACC, and more," Gabriel said. "And in such a state of political confusion right now, our institutions must act without fear and favour."
On Monday, Mahathir sparked shock waves in the country when he suddenly resigned as premier and chairman of the Bersatu party.
The Malaysian king accepted his resignation but appointed him as interim prime minister.
Mahathir on Thursday met Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah. There were no details of the meeting.
He returned to his party on Thursday, according to local press reports.
A power tussle between Mahathir and his on-off rival Anwar Ibrahim, who also has his eye on the prime ministership, is ongoing.
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