A startling 80 percent of law enforcement and security officers at Malaysian borders are corrupt, according to a report compiled over a period of ten years by the Special Branch, disclosed the New Straits Times.
It quoted the Special Branch as saying that many of these officers were directly involved in syndicates smuggling drugs, weapons and humans.
"The enemy we have to fight is one that operates as an institution. We are dealing with institutionalised corruption so deeply entrenched that expecting internal disciplining is like asking the chief crook to rat out on his runners," a Special Branch officer said, according to the daily.
Tasked with providing intelligence to the country's enforcement agencies, the Special Branch said they had submitted findings to the relevant agencies over the years.
However, for reasons unknown to it, most of their intel was not followed through.
The Special Branch also complained with the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA), it has become harder to arrest corrupted officers using only the Anti-Trafficking on Persons Act-Smuggling of Migrants and Security Offences and Special Measures Act (Sosma).
Sosma lacks the scope of the ISA and the level of proof required is "extremely high".
While Sosma allows on-camera witness testimony, a top-ranking official said the testimonies can be easily traced back to the witnesses.
"That is why many refuse to cooperate," the official said. Zahid: Replace border officers with army
In one of their major coups in 2011, the Special Branch arrested eight Immigration Department officers based at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for their alleged involvement in a human-trafficking operation.
When interrogating the suspects, one of them was asked, "Who else are in the payroll of the syndicate?"
"It would be easier if you asked us for the names of officers not on the take," was the shocking answer.
The eight officers have since had their detention order revoked after only a few months serving time in Kamunting.
Following this damning revelation, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (photo) said that he wants to replace the enforcement agencies guarding the borders with the military.
"I cannot tolerate this. That is why I will take this up with the cabinet today to ask that the army takes over fully," Zahid said.
The issue of institutionalised corruption among the enforcement officers at the borders needs to addressed "once and for all", he declared.
Zahid said that replacing them with the military is also a matter of national security.
"(The borders are) the country's first line of defence and I have always felt this way, even when I was defence minister," he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.