SOME agents handling funeral arrangement are fast becoming known as “vultures.” They have no qualms harassing family members of the deceased ones.
For some reason, they seem to have information about the latest deaths and would wait at the mortuary for family members to turn up to collect the remains of their loved ones.
Often, they would charge more than the other undertakers – or provide less for the fees paid – simply because they have to pay a bribe to the hospital staff who acted as their intelligence personnel.
These agent work hand-in-hand with the hospital employees who provide the information to the agents.
The number of arrests lately bring to light an issue which has long plagued the public hospitals. More arrests are expected as the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) clamps down on such corruption in the public hospitals.
For example, five staff from a hospital in Selangor were remanded for five days on Oct 7 after they were suspected of instigating and accepting bribes from an agent to manage the corpses.
Earlier, on Sept 29, six employees from Seremban hospital were remanded for five days and investigated for receiving bribes. On Sept 12, there were arrests of four employees from Kajang Hospital, including one assistant medical officer attached to the Forensic Unit.
The suspects, three men and a woman in between 30s and 50s, allegedly accepted between RM100 and RM600 each time from the companies providing funeral services. The operation which had begun as early as May 31 saw a number of these hospital staff being nabbed by the MACC.
Is it worth it?
For these hospital employees, it is the money that comes easy. To them, it is money first. They no longer have any conscience, especially towards the grieving family members who are being harassed by the so-called “vultures”.
When a death occurs, usually family members need time to recoup their thoughts instead of being harassed with funeral arrangements. Therefore, the recent efforts by the graft buster are a welcomed move.
Such practices have been a problem for a long time but there were no actions in the past to curb the rampant corruption that exists even in the public hospitals to the point that it has become a norm.
Now that a number of them have been caught, the question needs to be asked, “Is it worth it?”
The easy money that comes through accepting gratification may bring some delight but once caught, the career of these hospital staff will be at stake as their criminal record will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
The other group
The other group is the accidents investigating officers at the police station. They know that accident victims have to claim insurance, hence the need for an investigation report.
In this instance, there will be runners to do the job. But if one refuses to use the runner, the delay would be orchestrated intentionally.
Imagine these runners can even sit in the police station and answer phones on behalf of the police. This was the experience of this writer who started questioning the voice over the phone.
The police should set a timeline for the report to be generated so that there is no further delay, and to ensure that accident victims are not forced to pay a bribe just to obtain the police report.
Until a few cases have been dealt with, the practice can be said to be still rampant. In fighting corruption, it is not the amount that matters but it is the very act of taking bribes itself. – Oct 2, 2023