ACA should stop dreaming and wake up to the fact that there is  nothing to be proud about Malaysiaís worldwide ranking in the corruption perception index of Transparency International and to work for Malaysia to be ranked among the ten least corrupt nations in the world

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): On Monday, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) Deputy Director-General (operations) Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan told reporters after delivering a paper at a forum in Ipoh that corruption in Malaysia was under control with the country now being placed 29 out of 85 countries worldwide in the corruption perception index by Transparency International.

He said: "The position has improved as the Government has carried out a lot of corruption prevention activities". (The Star 20.6.2000 frontpage)

I am doubly shocked by this report, firstly by Ahmadís height of irresponsibility in deliberating giving misleading  information and  secondly, by the complacency of the ACA on the state of corruption in Malaysia.

In the first place, the latest worldwide ranking of Malaysia in the corruption perception index (CPI) of the global anti-corruption organisation, Transparency International, is not 29th out of 85 countries, which was for 1998,  but had slipped to  32nd  placing out of 99 countries in the 1999 CPI.

In actual fact, Mohamad had said the same thing on Oct. 21, 1999  in Kuantan when he said that the ACA took pride in the latest Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International which had placed Malaysia 29th among the 85 countries surveyed worldwide.

During the debate on the 1999 suppIementary  estimates in Parliament a few days later, I had expressed shock that the ACA, which was  responsible for ensuring the highest integrity in public life, could be so complacent as to take pride that Malaysia was placed 29th among 85 countries as the least corrupt country, when Malaysia was  placed 23rd in 1995, 26th in 1996  and  32nd in 1997 in the Transparency Internationalís Corruption Perception Indices.

However, by 26th October, 1999, there were further bad news for the ACA and Malaysia when TI released worldwide its latest 1999 Corruption Perception Index, with Malaysia slipping from the previous yearís 29th placing back to 32nd placing out of 99 countries.

During the debate on the 2000 Budget in Parliament on 1st November 1999, I castigated the ACA for showing "no sense of failure, shame or responsibility" and called on the ACA to come out with a policy statement as to why Malaysia had slipped further in the latest Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International and "what new strategy it proposed to adopt to give Malaysia a more respectable ranking on TIís CPI beginning next year".

I also  suggested that the ACA should come out with a mission statement to place Malaysia among the ten least corrupt nations in the world Ė and which is reflected in future Transparency International Corruption Perception Index.

It is now clear that the past eight months had been wasted months for the ACA, and the hope of Transparency International Chairman Dr Peter Eigen that TIís Corruption Perception Index would serve as a "wake-up callÖto confront the abundant corruption that pervades so many countries" have failed to work on the ACA and the  Malaysian authorities.

The ACA had not only failed to "wake up", it had continued with its sleep and dream about Malaysiaís "good standing" on the anti-corruption front.  The ACA should stop dreaming and wake up to the fact that there is  nothing to be proud about Malaysiaís worldwide ranking in the corruption perception index of Transparency International and to work for Malaysia to be ranked among the ten least corrupt nations in the world.

It is coming to three years since the new Anti-Corruption Act was passed with increased powers for the ACA and greater penalties for corruption offences  promising a new era when there would be no-holds-barred in the battle against corruption.

But the ACA has absolutely nothing to show for the past three years, except greater use of public relations through the mass media to give the  ACA greater publicity, but  not backed up by concrete results, in terms of arrests, prosecutions and convictions, particularly in weeding out  corruption involving the high and mighty.

The ACA should realise that all its publicity efforts would come to nought if it could not command public confidence about its competence, independence, impartiality and integrity, which have come under intense  question because of its inability to give a satisfactory accounting with regard to the four  police reports lodged by former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim last year about corruption and abuses of power in high political places, naming names, including the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz, the former Malacca Chief Minister, Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik, and the two most senior law officers in the land, the Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah and Datuk Gani Patail - backed with documentary support for the serious allegations.

Last week, public confidence in the ACA suffered another grievous blow when former ACA  director-general, Datuk Shafee Yahya testified in the Anwar Ibrahim trial that the  Mahathir had personally ordered the ACA in June 1998  to drop an investigation  into the then Economic Planning Unit director-general, Tan Sri  Ali Abul Hassan Sulaiman, who was later appointed Bank Negara Governor, after the agency raided Aliís office  and found a large sum of money.

Shafee said Mahathir   called him up after the raid and  he  was "told off". The Prime Ministerís words were: "How dare you raid my senior officer's office?", accused him of "trying to fix" the official and wanted to know whether he had acted under the instruction of Anwar.

As things stand, far from improving on the 1999 ranking, Malaysiaís placing on the Transparency Internationalís Corruption Perception Index for the year 2000 is likely to be even worse when it is released worldwide in the fourth quarter of the year.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman