Wrong for Azam to state that human rights and business ethics had little to do with corruption.
The Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) has slammed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Azam Baki for downplaying the country’s ranking on an internationally-recognised corruption index.
On Thursday, Azam questioned the reliability of Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
He asked the people to pay little heed to it as it did not represent the true nature of graft in Malaysia. He added that several indicators in the survey, such as human rights and business ethics, were not related to corruption.
“Azam, as the chief commissioner, should better explain the CPI’s value rather than discredit the country-wide index, and worse, make statements that decouple corruption and its links with democracy, human rights and business interests.
“This is an extremely shallow take on corruption that belies a lack of understanding on the subject, and a shocking one coming from a top graft buster.
“To state that corruption has little to do with human rights and business ethics is simply wrong – the continued harassment of journalists and crackdown on free speech in an attempt to silence those who would reveal abuses of power perpetrated by the government demonstrates a clear link between corruption and human rights, to provide just one example,” it said.
Azam had said the CPI measures the perceptions of corruption in the public sector in different countries and it wasn’t factual nor based on evidence.
C4 said that Azam’s insistence on the need for “evidence” in relation to assessing corruption was puzzling.
“The nature of corruption is such that related acts such as bribery, diversion of public funds, use of public office for private gain are acts done covertly, meaning that procuring evidence for corrupt practices necessitates investigations that can only be undertaken by robust and independent enforcement agencies, like the MACC.
“If there is a lack of evidence, it follows that there should be more investigations by the agencies who are empowered to do so.
“The evidence on which Azam places so much importance can only be reliably collected by agencies like the MACC and law enforcement, and subject to proper deliberation in a court of law.
“If investigations against powerful officials are dropped without proper justification, if transparency regarding the allocation of government funding is hidden behind secrecy laws, or if the judiciary is unable to act because of ostensible undue influence, these are also strong indicators of corruption,” it said.
It added that the perception of corruption arising from a lack of government transparency or conflict of interest is a problem that should not necessitate “evidence” to substantiate its problematic nature.
It reminded Azam that it was his duty as the MACC chief commissioner to fight against corruption first before attempting to protect “national image”.