Thursday 28 January, Kuala Lumpur – Transparency International (TI) the global anti-corruption coalition today released its 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) drawing on 13 surveys and expert assessments measuring the perceived level of corruption of public sectors in 180 countries and territories in the world.
This year, Denmark and New Zealand are top of the index with 88 points each as “clean countries”, while Syria, South Sudan and Somalia are at the bottom of the index, with 14, 12 and 12 points respectively.
The survey results indicate that Malaysia’s score has deteriorated to 51 points in 2020, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupted) to 100 (perceived to be very clean) compared to 53 points in 2019. Malaysia’s ranking in the CPI also deteriorated from 51 in 2019 to 57 in 2020 among the 180 countries surveyed. Although a drop in the score appear statistically insignificant, the government must be cognizant that our rank falling 6 steps means that compared to other countries we are not improving as well as other countries in our efforts to fight corruption.
Among the possible reasons for this deterioration are as follows:
i. Institutional reforms have stalled. Among them are the Political Funding Bill which was to be tabled in Parliament by the last two governments but that did not happen. Also the IPCMC Bill was revised to a watered down version and a largely ineffective IPCC Bill. Further the separation of powers between the Attorney General and Public Prosecutor is yet to be initiated by the Government.
ii. Discharge Not Amounting to Acquittal for some of those charged in high profile cases has given a negative perception on how the legal process is used.
iii. Limited access to information on matters of public interest. For example, the compensation for cancelling the High Speed Rail project and the compensation paid as settlement by Goldman Sachs in the 1 MDB case is not disclosed to the public.
iv. Continued cases of abuse of power and corruption by public official despite crack down by MACC. For example, the recent arrest of immigration officers for issuing fake visas which remains a perennial problem.
v. Limited progress or public update on high profile cases eg. Wang Kelian human trafficking case, Sabah Water Scandal and Littoral Combat Ship.
vi. Non Halal meat scandal reported to have operated with impunity for 40 years.
vii. Government has yet to table Public Procurement Bill.
viii. Continued adverse reports on wrong doings and poor governance by government officials in the Auditor General’s report which seems to go unpunished
The Government after coming into power in early 2020 committed to continue with the agenda to fight corruption and among them were to gazette the enforcement date of 1 June 2020 for the Corporate Liability and continue with the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) initiated by the previous Government which is commendable. The NACP (National Anti- Corruption Plan) is a comprehensive plan but the government must ensure the implementation is effective and the Chief Secretary to the government should be empowered to lead the implementation and be made accountable.
However to turn around Malaysia’s standing in the index, the Perikatan Nasional government should accelerate instituitional reforms such as making the MACC more independent, pushing for the IPCMC Bill instead of the toothless IPCC Bill, enactment of the political financing law to stop money politics and restore parliamentary democracy at the earliest opportunity. Also there must be greater transparency and matters of public interest should be disclosed by narrowing down the scope of the Official Secrets Act. Only with such momentum and commitment from the leadership, the trajectory of the corruption perception index can be reversed.
Note to Editors: For clarification on any and all official statements from Transparency International – Malaysia (TI-M), kindly refer to its President, Dr Muhammad Mohan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to its Manager, Adlina Adnan (email@example.com) For more information on Corruption Perception Index, visit www.transparency.org/research/cpi.