SHAH ALAM: Malaysia will never improve from its 62nd place in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) as long as high-profile cases such those involving 1MDB, SRC and Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd are not solved, said Transparency International (TI) Malaysia president Akhbar Satar.
“When we released the CPI last month, for four days we were receiving criticisms from everywhere saying that we were biased and that the survey was baseless.
“The government must start listening and paying attention to these surveys if they want to improve.
“Admit the mistakes and improve from there,” Akhbar said during a forum titled “Malaysia Heading Towards A Corrupted Country: Facts or Propaganda” held here today.
He added how a slight improvement in the ranking in 2014 and 2015 brought about a lot of reaction, with “everyone rushing to make a statement, taking credit for the improved ranking”.
“This year, Malaysia was at its worst since TI started the survey in 1994. All TI got were criticisms and no one wanting to admit where they had gone wrong.”
Based on TI data, Akhbar said Malaysia’s CPI ranking started dropping tremendously when high-profile cases such as 1MDB and SRC surfaced.
Akbar also noted that this was in the years after Prime Minister Najib Razak took over from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
“When TI started the survey in 1994, it was during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s tenure as prime minister.
“Malaysia was then ranked 23 and before Abdullah took over as prime minister, it was at 33.
“Malaysia still managed to maintain its ranking with a little decline when he introduced the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).”
Akbar added that the recent conviction of Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli was among the reasons Malaysia’s global anti-corruption scores were affected.
Malaysia dropped to 62nd place in the 2017 rankings from among 180 countries in the CPI, from 55th in 2016.
Presenting the annual global score during the forum, he said the major concerns, among others, are impunity from the law where thefts of public funds go unpunished, absence of a political financing law and corporate liability provisions in anti-graft laws.
“I was even questioned over why the survey included ‘injustice for whistleblowers’. People don’t understand why we had done so and so they criticised us.
“Everything that we have included in the survey have gone through the vetting and approval of TI and were done by local experts, not dependent on foreign experts.
“So it is not right to question if the data findings are not accurate,” he said.
Sincere push for change
He added that the main reason why Malaysia had not improved much compared with its neighbour, Indonesia, is because of the lack of political will to make changes.
“In Indonesia, they are sincere in pushing for change, and they focus very much on the future generation.
“In Malaysia, on the other hand, decision-makers are stuck with a mindset of doing things ‘for me’.
“They are still doing things for themselves and not thinking about the future generations to come,” he said.
Malaysia also scored 47 out of 100, placing it third among 10 Asean countries, but still far behind Singapore and Brunei in terms of the score.
The CPI is based on surveys from business people, including risk analysts and the general public working in the countries evaluated.
It is based on at least three independent surveys of the perceptions in each country. Malaysia used nine sources.
Akhbar added that exposure of scandals such as the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) affair had also influenced the perception of businessmen and investors of Malaysia’s commitment against corruption, adding that they “are losing faith in our system”.
But he lauded efforts by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), saying its aggressive efforts could have stopped Malaysia’s further fall in the annual global ranking.