Time to progress by turning graft’s downward curve around

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia slipped to it’s lowest global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) score in a decade and several factors, including the roll out of the Covid-19 pandemic stimulus packages without parliamentary scrutiny and the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) project cost overruns were possible causes for the lower CPI.

According to Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M), Malaysia’s score dropped from 48 points in 2021 to 47 points last year.

TI-M president Dr Muhammad Mohan said while the drop might seem small, the implication is that the nation was regressing in efforts to tackle corruption.

“It is not a good sign as it shows that we are moving in the wrong direction. We have dropped six points in the last three years which is statistically significant.

“We are even below countries such as Namibia and Rwanda. We have to turn this downward curve around,” he said when presenting the CPI 2022 Report yesterday.

In 2019, Malaysia scored 53 under the CPI, 51 in 2020, 48 in 2021 and 47 in 2022.

In the 2022 report, Scandinavian countries continue to dominate the ranking, with Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden among the top 10 “cleanest” countries, together with New Zealand and Singapore from the Asia Pacific region.

At the bottom of the index, the worst performers were Venezuela, Syria, South Sudan and Somalia.

In Asean, Singapore scored 85, Vietnam (39), Thailand (35), Indonesia (38), Philippines (33), Laos (30), Cambodia (23) and Myanmar (28).

Muhammad said that although Malaysia improved it’s ranking from 61 in 2021 to 62 last year, this was not an accurate reflection of the CPI.

He said this was because not all 180 nations were included in the CPI report as some did not qualify for analysis.

He noted that the nation’s CPI score began to progressively drop after 2019 owing to several factors such as a change in the administration in 2020.

He also said that a lack in institutional reforms was also a factor for the lower score.

He cited the example of political funding laws which were mooted by previous administrations but was not implemented.

Among the other factors, he said included the lack of political will in fighting institutional corruption within the government.

Muhammad said appointments of unqualified politicians to lead government-linked companies were also factors leading to lower CPI last year.

“We are back to square one and back to where we started fours years ago. All the money and effort by civil society and relevant agencies on improving perception against corruption has been wasted,” he said.

As far as TI-M is concerned, a score below 50 is considered a fail, he added.

Muhammad said suggested that Law and Institutional Reforms Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said look at low hanging fruits to tackle corruption as laws to regulate political funding and giving greater independence to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Attorney-General would require time before they are implemented.

He expressed hope that Malaysia will improve on its CPI in the coming years following the commitment given by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to tackle corruption in the administration.

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