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Head of Malaysia tourism board faces corruption charges

[JURIST] Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board [official website] head Mirza Mohammad Taiyab [Star profile] on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to corruption charges based on allegations that he received free dental work in return for granting a government contract. His indictment is the latest of several brought by the country's Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) [official website], in what government officials have said is a new push to combat violations of the country's anti-graft laws [statute materials]. Anti-corruption advocates were unimpressed with Mirza's arrest, saying there were much larger instances of corruption in need of investigation. Mirza is scheduled to be tried in February 2009 and faces up to two years in prison if convicted. AP has more. The Star has local coverage.

Last month the ACA arrested the country's immigration board head and six others for allegedly receiving bribes [Star report] in exchange for the granting of work permits. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Bin Ahmad Badawi [official website] has said that such high-profile arrests prove the efficacy of the agency [Star report] but critics of the government have held protests of judicial corruption in the country since the release of video excerpts [JURIST reports] allegedly showing former Malaysian Chief Justice Dzaiddin Abdullah admitting to accepting bribes in return for judicial appointments.

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