PETALING JAYA - Civil servants and their wives who post pictures of expensive items such as branded handbags and watches, as well as expensive family holidays, could be giving themselves away.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has been following these social media postings especially on Facebook and Instagram.
Besides high-ranking officials on holidays that include overseas golf trips, the middle and lower ranking ones are also being monitored as, in some cases, their lifestyles are not commensurate with their earnings.
The Star has been informed that in one particular case in Sabah, a group of civil servants who went to London on a holiday became the talking point when they showed off their holidays on Facebook.
According to a state MACC source, the commission does follow up leads from Facebook postings on people living beyond their means.Postings of expensive overseas holidays on Facebook raises questions if the person, particularly a civil servant, looks to be living beyond his or her means.
"We do look into it. We can consider them as initial information to carry out further checks. If it warrants an investigation, then we will probe," said the source, who declined to say if anyone had been found to be involved in corrupt practices or charged in court based on leads obtained via Facebook."We cannot check all postings but mostly the public does send them to us and it is taken as a first information," he said.
MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed that they were watching such social media postings by show-off civil servants.
"We also rely on our public tip offs and our own intelligence gathering to investigate such cases," he said, adding that it was a huge task as there were 1.6 million civil servants.
He said there was nothing wrong with civil servants and their family members owning luxury handbags and branded watches.
"But having one too many Hermes, Chanel or Louis Vuitton bags will raise eyebrows and suspicion as to the source of their wealth.
"If civil servants or their family members are having more than a dozen and flaunt them around, then we would like to know where they got the money to buy those bags.
Azam was asked to comment on recent investigations of alleged corruption where a host of luxury items were seized from several high-ranking civil servants.
In the latest case involving a federal ministry's secretary-general on Wednesday, some 150 handbags and watches were seized from his home in Subang Jaya.
Last October, jewellery worth RM3.64 million (S$1.16 million) and designer handbags worth RM500,000 were confiscated from two senior Sabah Water Department officials.
Azam said the MACC would also work closely with other authorities such as the Immigration Department to check on how frequently these senior officials travelled overseas with their family members and the reasons for the trips.
"These are some of the indicators we used as part of our probe against those living beyond their means," he said.
On Tuesday, Azam told MACC.fm, the commission's online radio service that civil servants who fly abroad in business class to play golf and have liaisons with girlfriends or mistresses were being probed.
He said these were among indicators used by the MACC against officials who were corrupt and abused their power.