Malaysia drops five spots to 62 in TI-M’s corruption index rankings

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Fall in corruption perception index for second year in a row.

Malaysia dropped five spots in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2021, to 62nd position out of 180 countries in terms of public sector corruption.

Transparency International Malaysia president Dr Muhammad Mohan said Malaysia scored 48 out of 100 points in the index, compared to its 2020 score of 51.

He pointed out that in 2020 the country ranked 57, while in 2019 it was placed at 51.

The ranking of 100 means very clean, while zero means highly corrupt.

Mohan said some reasons why Malaysia’s digressed from its path was due to stalled institutional reforms.

“The last four governments lacked the political will to table the ‘Political Financing Bill’.

“As such money politics is still rampant, even during elections.

“There also has been no progress on reforms to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s recommendations in 2015.”

The other issues, he said, were on discharge not amounting to acquittal for high-profile personalities in corruption cases and a continued lack of political will from various administrations in fighting corruption.

“Appointments of politicians without experience to head government-linked companies as well as the government procurement bill which is yet to be tabled in Parliament (remains outstanding).”

“There is also a dearth in progress for amendments to the Whistle-blowers Protection Act 2010 besides adverse findings and government failures observed in the Auditor General’s annual report.”

Art Chen/The Star

“Additionally, there is also a lack of action against public officials who abuse their positions.”

Mohan, however, said that there were positive developments such as the signing of the memorandum of understanding between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Pakatan Harapan last year.

This, he said, includes reducing the minimum voting age to 18 and automatic voter registration and the Malaysia Agreement (MA) 63.

Mohan also said it was crucial that the anti-hopping law is tabled in Parliament soon.

“The law is badly needed. We can’t simply have lawmakers jumping (to other parties) every few years.

“There is also a need for parliamentary reforms and to cut back on the (unlimited) tenure of the prime minister to 10 years.”

In the international corruption index released today, Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand tied at the top spot with a score of 88, followed by Norway with 85 points.

Malaysia’s neighbour, Singapore ranked fifth with 85 points, making it the only Asian country in the top 10 of the CPI table.

In Southeast Asia, Malaysia is in third place behind Singapore and Brunei.

Among the Islamic countries, Malaysia is ranked sixth, behind UAE, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.

Mohan said that TI-M called for the scope of the Official Secrets Act to be narrowed so matters of public interest such as directly negotiated contracts can be released without being defined as making compromises to national interest.

“Information should be shared transparently including uploading data on all public contracts. Regular updates on the status of high-profile cases should also be provided.

“The implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) must be monitored while progress on the 115 initiatives should also be given.”

He also said the chief secretary to the government should be responsible for the public service role in the successful implementation of the NACP

“We need to adopt international standards of integrity in government procurement for transparency and good governance. The latest government circular failed to address this issue.

“The powers and independence for the enforcement agency integrity commission must also be enhanced.”

He added that the government must reform the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to make it fully independent and report to Parliament.

“This will require amendments to the MACC Act and the federal constitution.” – NST