Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Malaysia corrupt than ever

Malaysia seen as more corrupt than ever

(from left) TI-M president Datuk Paul Low, secretary general Ngooi Chiu Ing and deputy president Datuk Mohamad Ali Hasan explaining how people see Malaysia as growing more corrupt over the years.

By Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 - Malaysia is now seen to be more corrupt than ever, anti-graft watchdog Transparency International (TI) said in its global Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2009 launched today.

Malaysia now ranks 56 out of 180 countries in the world with a corruption index score of 4.5 out of 10, with 10 being the least corrupt, said the world corruption watchdog. Last year, it placed 47 with a CPI score of 5.1.

The annual TI CPI measures how corrupt a country is in the public sector based on data sourced from 13 different polls and surveys from 10 independent institutions over a period of two years. The three least corrupt countries in the world are, in order, New Zealand, Denmark and Singapore.

In an immediate reaction, DAP Parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang called Malaysia’s ranking the worst in 15 years and said it was a major blow to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s administration.

“This is a national shame and major blow for Najib’s premiership,” the Ipoh Timur MP said in a statement.

He said that he had expected poor results for Malaysia both in CPI ranking and score, with the country slipping further in ranking from 47 to perhaps 50 and score a lowest CPI of 4.8.

“But my worst fears had been exceeded when the Berlin-based TI just announced that Malaysia had plunged nine places from last year’s 47th CPI ranking to 56th position while Malaysia CPI index score plunged to the lowest in 15 years to 4.5,” he added.

Malaysia’s previous worst scores below 5 were 4.8 in 2000 and 4.9 in 2002.

Lim said the mysterious death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock on July 16 at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Selangor head office was among the major factors for Malaysia’s worst-ever TI CPI ranking and score.

“Will there be any response from Najib to the shocking TI CPI 2009 ranking and score?” he asked.

Malaysia's all-time low puts it on par with Namibia, Samoa, Slovakia and Latvia.

“A fall of 0.6 from 5.1 in 2008 to 4.5 in 2009 is alarming not only to the people of Malaysia but also the government of the day,” said Datuk Paul Low, the country president of the local branch of TI.

He lay a large portion of blame squarely on the federal government’s lap, singling out its lack of political will in enforcing tight anti-graft measures.

He said intense scrutiny surrounding public scandals exposing money siphoned off public funds, from the long drawn-out multi-billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project to the more recent double-tracking railway project, which went overboard by a whopping RM1.3 billion were clear examples that affected the increasing poor perception.

He said the impression the public gets is of double standards and selective prosecution, adding that the newly empowered Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is only seen to be catching “small fish” and focusing on Barisan Nasional’s (BN) rival political parties.

“The Auditor General’s annual report highlights extraordinary public procurement abuses, but no action appears to have been taken,” he stressed.

Low noted the plunge was serious not only when compared to the country’s perceived past performances but, more importantly, in relation to other countries worldwide and especially those within the Asean region.

At first place is Singapore with far and away the best score, topping 9.0. Even tiny Brunei which was included in the CPI for the first time this year, outstripped Malaysia at 5.5.

Drawing special attention to neighbouring Indonesia, Low marked that though it ranks 111 and scored 2.8 on the CPI, the country’s corruption level is seen to be improving steadily under the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Indonesia, which once scored less than 2.0, rose to 2.6 last year and this year, claimed 0.2 points in the CPI.

Low noted that the latest survey by local independent pollster Merdeka Centre showed that 74 per cent of citizens here were not satisfied with the way the government was dealing with fighting graft, while a separate survey carried out in Indonesia showed 79 per cent of its population satisfied with its government’s tactics to combat corruption.

In his personal mini survey, Low noted that eight out of 10 Malaysians he spoke to were of the view that there was “no alternative but to pay your way through” to get service from public institutions.

Corruption, as defined by TI, means “any abuse of power for personal gain”, Low said.

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