Highlights of the CPI 2007:
The 2007 CPI looked at perceptions of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories – the greatest country coverage of any CPI to date – and is a composite index that draws on 14 expert opinion surveys.
It scores countries on a scale from zero to ten, with zero indicating high levels of perceived corruption and ten indicating low levels of perceived corruption.
The new additions to countries list are, among others – Afghanistan, Comoros, Solomon Islands, Saint Lucia, Tonga, Guinea, Somalia, Cape Verde, Samoa, Kiribati, Maldives, Vanuatu, Djibouti, Liberia and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines.
Malaysia improved its ranking in the CPI 2007 from 44th to 43rd and improved its score from 5.0 to 5.1, ending a 5 year downward spiral in the rankings from 33rd place in 2002.
One could argue that Malaysia has more than held its own considering that there was an inclusion of 17 new countries in this year’s ranking bringing the total to 180 from 163 in 2006.
Other Asian countries in the region have been relatively static – Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan which fared better than Malaysia either maintained their position or moved up or down by one place.
Singapore moved up to 4th place from last year’s 5th, but reduced its score by 0.1 to 9.3 while Hong Kong moved to 14th place from 15th and maintained its score of 8.3. Significantly, Singapore is the only ‘non-western’ economy in the top 10.
Japan maintained its position at the 17th place and lost 0.1 points to score 7.5. Taiwan is at 34th place, unchanged from 2006 but lost 0.2 point to score 5.7. South Korea shared Malaysia’s 44th rank on the list.
Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia all scored much lower than Malaysia, and apart from Thailand – ranked 84 with 3.3 points, the other three countries scored less than 3.0 – which indicated that corruption is perceived as rampant in these countries.Thailand’s rank fell significantly to 84th compared to last year’s 63rd and lost 0.3 point to score 3.3 points.
Vietnam fell 12 places to 123rd spot, despite maintaining the same score of 2.6 points. Philippines fell 10 places to 131st spot, also despite maintaining its score of 2.5 point. Indonesia is placed at 143rd place this year with a score of 2.3 – falling 13 places and losing 0.1 point to score 2.3 points. Myanmar is in 179 spot with 1.4 points, sharing the bottom rank with Somalia.
While Malaysia has improved marginally in both its ranking and score, there is much progress that needs to be achieved before Malaysians can be proud that the fight against corruption is being won.
What Malaysia should do to improve its CPI rankings:-
a. Pay particular attention to Government Procurement especially for large projects as the perception on the integrity of the execution of these projects can impact public perception significantly.
b. Judicial appointments should be made by an independent commission – The proposed independent Judicial Appointments Commission is a step in the right direction.
c. The Anti-Corruption Agency must be established as an independent statutory body to ensure that it will act firmly and fairly without fear or favour – The proposed independent Anti-corruption Commission is also a good
d. Public officials and legislators should be required to declare their assets publicly, and whistle-blowers should be given appropriate protection. The proposed Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) should be established as proposed by the Royal Commission without further delay.
e. Malaysia should also ratify the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) expeditiously.
f. Government should also urgently review the Official Secrets Act and introduce “Freedom of Information” legislation as requisite measures to bring about a more transparent and accountable society.