ACA should come out with a policy statement as to why Malaysia has slipped further in the latest  Transparency International’s  Corruption Perception Index (CPI) from 29th to 32nd placing

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Last Thursday, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA)  deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan said in Kuantan that  it was important to weed out corruption, including in the civil service, because it could boost investor confidence.

He said: "There will be more investors coming if corruption is reduced further," adding that the level of corruption had a direct influence on investment decisions.

He took pride in the 1998  Corruption Perception Index (CPI)  by Transparency International which had placed Malaysia 29th among the 85 countries surveyed worldwide.

During the debate on the 1999  supplementary estimates in Parliament  on Monday,  I expressed my shock that the ACA, which is responsible for ensuring the highest integrity in public life, could be so complacent as to take pride that Malaysia is placed 29th  among 85 countries as the least corrupt country, when Malaysia was  placed 23rd in 1995, 26th place in 1996,  and  32nd in 1997.

There is now further bad news for the ACA and for Malaysia on the anti-corruption front.

Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption coalition, has just  released world-wide its latest 1999 Corruption Perception Index, with Malaysia slipping from last year’s 29th placing back to 32nd placing out of 99 countries.

The Anti-Corruption Agency should come out with a policy statement as to why Malaysia has slipped further in the latest  Transparency International’s  Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and what new strategy it proposes to adopt to give Malaysia a more respectable ranking on TI’s CPI beginning next year.

I had suggested in Parliament that the ACA  should place the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index on its priority agenda and work out a strategy whereby Malaysia could be universally recognised as among the ten least corrupt nations in the world – and which is reflected in future Transparency International Corruption Perception Indices.

It would not be easy for Malaysia to leapfrog from the present No. 32 position in the 1999 TI Corruption Perception Index to within the first ten least corrupt nations.

However,  the ACA should take the objective to be one of the ten least corrupt nations as  a challenge, both in the spirit of "Malaysia Boleh" and  after the enactment of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 which was supposed to introduce a new era of national integrity in Malaysia.

This national objective will definitely be more meaningful for Malaysia and the people than to have the tallest building in the world or the world’s most grandiose office and residence for the Prime Minister.

Beginning this year, Transparency International is also introducing an second set of annual indices on corruption, known as the Bribe Payers’ Index (BPI), ranking the leading exporting countries in terms of the degree to which they are perceived as the homes of corporations paying bribes abroad.

When the Transparency International first published its annual CPI five years ago to raise public awareness and to shatter the taboo that surrounds corruption, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was very vocal in criticising it as unfair and pro-Western for pointing its finger at the receipients of bribery but not on the payer of bribes.

The second set of companion BPI indices by TI  has therefore given two sides of the coin of corruption - the payer of bribes apart from the receipient of bribes which is tracked by CPI.

The BPI survey was conducted exclusively in 14 key emerging market countries.The 14 countries together account for more than 60 per cent of total imports of all emerging market economies.  The BPI reveals that on a scale of 0-10, where 10 represents a corrupt-free exporting country, the best score among 19 leading exporting countries was a 8.3 (Sweden), while the worst score, representing a great propensity to use bribes, was 3.1 (China), followed by South Korea (3.4), Taiwan (3.5), Italy (3.7) and Malaysia (3.9).

Malaysia’s 15th ranking on the BPI out of 19 countries is as shameful as the 32nd ranking on the CPI out of 99 countries.

Malaysia’s deplorable ranking, both on the 1999  CPI and BPI, should be the cause for a major soul-searching by Malaysians as to what has gone wrong in the war against corruption in the country - both receiving and paying bribes.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong