PETALING JAYA: Malaysia now ranks 57 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2020, dropping from 51 last year.
Transparency International Malaysia president Dr Muhammad Mohan said Malaysia also scored 51 out of 100 in the index that measures perception on public sector corruption, compared to its 2019 score of 53.
Muhammad expressed concern over the drop in score and rank but believes Malaysia can do better if measures are taken.
"The drop in score is not significant but is something for us to worry about and something needs to be done about the downward trajectory," he said.
He added Malaysia's drop in rank is also due to more countries faring better in their fight against corruption.
Muhammad said reasons that brought Malaysia's score down include having limited access to information on matters of public interest, stalled progress in institutional reforms and a lack of political will to fight institutional corruption.
The report also noted that money politics is still rampant in the country and the public was not updated on high-profile cases such as the Wang Kelian human trafficking ring, the Sabah Watergate scandal and the purchase of the Littoral Combat Ship.
He said among measures Malaysia can take to better its score include narrowing the scope of the Official Secrets Act 1972 so matters of public interest can be released while still protecting national security issues.
"For example, people have the right to know about the compensation paid to Singapore following the cancellation of the Kuala Lumpur- Singapore High-Speed Railway project because it involves taxpayers money," he said.
Other steps include monitoring the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) and disclosing its progress on a public dashboard.
He said the NACP is a comprehensive plan but the government needs to ensure its implementation and the Chief Secretary to the Government should be empowered to lead the action and be held accountable.