KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's political will to fight corruption to the core has started bearing fruit, says the nation’s former anti-graft chief.
National Governance, Integrity, and Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) director-general Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed said international indexes and studies show an improvement in Malaysia's performance indicators.
“The Edelman Trust Barometer shows the level of public confidence in the government has risen to 60% in 2019 compared with 46% in 2018, ” he said.
Malaysia has also moved 14 positions above Singapore on the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)'s Democracy Index, where we ranked 52nd and Singapore ranked 66th among 165 countries.
“On the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business report, Malaysia has advanced to 15th in 2019 from 24th out of 190 countries last year, ” said Abu Kassim, who was also commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) from 2010 to 2016.
The Corporate Governance Watch report showed Malaysia being placed fourth among 12 countries in the Asia Pacific region in 2018, compared with seventh in 2016.
Malaysia also jumped 22 places to secure the 123rd position on the World Press Freedom Index 2019.
“Among South-East Asian countries, Malaysia is top on the World Press Freedom Index 2019.
“All these reflect the public and international community's confidence in the seriousness of the government of the day in addressing corruption, integrity and governance issues, ” he said in his keynote address at the Anti-Corruption and Integrity 2019 forum on Tuesday (Sept 17).
Institut Integriti Malaysia and Aram Global Sdn Bhd jointly organised the forum with the theme “Embedding Integrity, the cornerstone of Good Governance”.
The MACC’s Anti-Corruption Perception Study also showed that the people's perception of the government's seriousness in fighting corruption has increased by 11 points from 59.8% in 2016 to 70.8% last year, said Abu Kassim.
“Many bills and directives are being examined and reviewed to promote high governance, high integrity and corruption eradication.
“Among initiatives taken to promote integrity include the National Integrity Plan (PIN) in 2004, the Government Transformation Programme (GTP), and the National Anti-Corruption Plan in 2019, ” he added.
Abu Kassim also noted that the Pakatan Harapan government has implemented a new code of conduct for members of the administration and Members of Parliament (MPs).
“This includes barring MPs from being appointed as chairmen or board members of government-linked companies (GLCs).
“Previously, GLCs such as Tabung Haji, Mara, Felda, BSN, FGV etc were led by lawmakers, and caused huge losses, ” he said.
Abu Kassim added that both the public and private sectors had positively accepted the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in January.
“The NACP is the people's plan. It is not owned by the government or any individual organisation.
“All of us have a role to play to ensure successful implementation of the NACP, ” he said.
He added that initiatives to be implemented by corporations include the Organisational Anti-Corruption Plan (OACP), and the MS ISO 37001:2016-certified Anti-Bribery Management System (ABMS) needed to qualify for government contract biddings.
The ISO 37001 standard could be used as a guide to preventing corrupt practices by having a systematic implementation of corruption risk management, said Abu Kassim.
The NACP, for its part, covers political and corporate governance, public sector administration, public procurement, legal and judicial, and law enforcement, he noted.
“Building the culture of integrity must come from the top. The ethical tone of the governing body and top management greatly influences the integrity culture of an organisation, ” he added.