I REFER “Yes, we did much better” (The Star, Dec 11) by Phil Mathews regarding Malaysia’s standing in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
Mathews argues that my earlier comments were “unfair and unjust.”
Firstly, Mathews states that the CPI released by Berlin based Transparency International (TI), “is a perception of a perception and that it is not reality”.
But how can he belittle the CPI when it is regarded by our Government and universally as well, as a reasonable measure of the state of corruption in any country?
To detract from the value of the CPI, would be to deny our poor scoring and rating in the CPI and to develop a Denial Syndrome!
This indeed could be misleading and could promote complacency.
Instead we should have the courage to accept the value of the CPI, even with its limitations, and use it to fight the evil of corruption more vigorously.
Secondly, Mathews argues that I “tried to downplay TI’s finding that Malaysia had moved up six places, to number 54 this year from number 60 last year”.
He said that it was “misleading to highlight the claim” of this little success.
Yes, I wrote that “its a pity that, after so much has been done by the Government to fight corruption, the ranking had gone up only six places out of a total of 174 countries”.
Mathews also failed to mention that our scoring was only 49 marks out of 100, and that we scored below 50, indicating a serious corruption problem in two-thirds of the countries surveyed.
I hope Mathews now understands the logic and the truth and the need to be balanced and not be carried away in his rush to laud the insignificant success achieved!
Mathews quotes Lau Tze that “a thousand miles begins with the first step”. That’s true but he must be aware that we have been fighting corruption for a long time and over a long journey.
The public will not be satisfied with the progress. Surely, we should have higher standards of achievement to win the war against corruption or we will move at a snail’s pace, which we can ill afford, if we want to be a developed nation by 2020.
Thirdly, Mathews thinks that “there is nothing unusual – that Malaysia seems only to catch small fry while letting the big fish get away”.
How can we combat corruption effectively and sustainably, if the public perceive that we are biased in mainly catching the ikan billis, while theIkan Yu or sharks swim merrily around us?
Finally, even if we have made a little progress in the CPI, we have to be fair and honest to admit that the little success is not good enough.
Given corruption’s destructive potential and our capacity to achieve a higher degree of success in fighting grand corruption, we must do much better.
We have to be more aware that corruption will surely further debilitate our social economic and political fabric, if we are not more serious in going all out to destroy corruption before it destroys us!
Hence, we have to attack money politics and catch more big fish before the coming elections.
We cannot prematurely celebrate any little success in our vital fight against corruption.
The people expect more success against corruption – and at a faster pace too, please!
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM Chairman, Asli Center of Public Policy Studies. The STAR Online Opinion Thursday December 13, 2012