KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysias Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) rated by Transparency International (TI) for this year has slipped 0.2 points, but is still among the top five in Asia.
Malaysia has been given five points on a scale of 1 to 10.
TI Malaysia president Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim said the slip was marginal and did not necessarily mean that there was increased corruption in the country, but was nevertheless a worrying trend.
Calling for more concrete action in fighting graft, he said it was obvious that negative perceptions continue to dog us in a very fundamental way.
The country now ranks 39th among 146 countries, compared with last years ranking of 37th among 133 countries.
Tunku Abdul Aziz said that although Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had introduced several measures to fight graft, Malaysia remained a victim of perceptions due to a great deal of scepticism.
The negative perceptions generated over the years would not be easily removed, he told a press conference, adding that there was a need to go beyond cosmetic and place substance above rhetoric in the fight against corruption.
Topping the CPI 2004 ranking is Finland, followed by New Zealand, while Denmark and Iceland share the third spot.
The last spot is shared by Bangladesh and Haiti.