Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's wavering war on corruption has received a major boost, with leaders of Malaysia's leading religions pledging to take the fight against fraud to their congregations. Malaysia has a testy interfaith relationship but - in an unprecedented move - Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Bahai leaders agree corruption is a sin. They pledged to fight corruption from the pulpit and start an advertising campaign to inform the rest of the community. They made the pledge at a two-day conference that ended yesterday, called The Role of Religion in Anti-Corruption Strategies. 'Our campaign will tell the people that it is a mortal sin to take or give bribes,' Hindu leader K. Dhamaratnam said. 'We need to instil the fear of God to eradicate corruption.' A government study published last year found corruption was widespread in both the public and private sectors. It is so endemic that many Malaysians believe it is part of doing business. A recent university study found most undergraduates had no qualms about giving or receiving bribes, and 45 per cent said they anticipated receiving bribes when they started work. 'Employing religion to battle corruption is full of promise, because religious leaders have tremendous moral authority in our society,' Malaysian Society for Transparency and Integrity president Param Cumaraswamy said. Opposition party leaders and foreign investors say Mr Abdullah could do more to stem corruption. On Wednesday, the government reacted by announcing it would protect whistle-blowers from retaliation and civil suits. Officials are hopeful the move will encourage more Malaysians to report dishonest dealings to the police.