KUALA LUMPUR: They came in as newly-employed staff and made efforts to blend in with Puspakom workers involved in inspecting and certifying vehicles as roadworthy.
For three months, the newbies quietly went about their work, but their eyes and ears were wide open.
They studied every move made by Puspakom staff, seemingly eager to learn the ropes as traffic wardens, administrative staff, personal assistants to senior officers and even "tea boys".
So successful were these newbies that the Puspakom staff didn't know what hit them when in a nationwide blitz, dozens of them were picked up by the Anti-Corruption Agency for accepting bribes to certify the roadworthiness of vehicles without even inspecting them.
The newbies were undercover ACA officers.
A Transport Ministry source said the undercover officers were placed in strategic positions at all Puspakom centres nationwide since May.
"Their job was to zoom in on those accepting bribes from runners and syndicates," she said.
The round-up began on Sunday and continued yesterday.
The source said the bribes were shared by senior and junior officers involved in inspecting vehicles. She said some staff took home RM50,000 every month.
"The majority of those caught were junior officers tempted to take large sums in bribes. The senior officers would later take a cut for certifying the vehicles as roadworthy.
"Officers who have an aversion to bribes succumbed to peer pressure. This is because the corrupt ones need the assistance of everyone involved in inspecting the vehicles," she said.
To send a vehicle for inspection, the owner or the runner will make an appointment with Puspakom. Once the date is fixed, the vehicle owner or his runner has to wait in line for the inspection.
The inspection is carried out in several stages by various staff. Vehicles undergo inspection involving the chassis, smoke emission, tyres and brakes, among others.
"This is why the officers had to work as a team to collect bribes," the source said.
"Some of the certified vehicles were not even at Puspakom centres for the checks," she said.
This is where the senior officers played their role. They "close both eyes" and certify the vehicles as roadworthy.
"Almost everyone will receive a cut. This is why there are so many cars, buses and lorries that are not roadworthy still on the road," she said.
Those involved in giving the bribes are runners who are banded together in syndicates.
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