Malaysians should make clear their concern at the  slew of unfavourable international assessments on Malaysia  in the past year which downgraded the country’s  international standing and jeopardised long-term national  economic wellbeing

Speech at the Perak DAP dialogue
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Ipoh, Wednesday): Malaysians should make clear their concern at the slew of unfavourable international assessments on Malaysia  in the past year which downgraded the country’s international standing and jeopardised the long-term national  economic wellbeing of Malaysians.

The latest international indictment on Malaysian governance is the damning 2001 Index of Economic Freedom  which was released last week where Malaysia dropped 57 places in the past six years from the 18th position in the 1995  index to the 75th position in the 2001 Index and slipped from
"mostly free" to the "mostly unfree" category.

Malaysia’s overall scores and ranking  for the past six years in the Index of Economic Freedom are:
Year Overall Score Ranking 
1995 2.40  18 
1996 2.70  40 
1997 2.80  53 
1998 2.60  39 
1999 2.60  40 
2000 2.70  46 
2001 3.00  75 

September was a bad month for Malaysia for two reasons: firstly, when the Swiss-based  World Economic Forum (WEF) released its  2000 global competitiveness ranking  showing a catastrophic collapse in Malaysia’s international competitiveness rating, falling by nine notches in the past year or 16 places in the past three years.  Malaysia slipped to 25th position from 16th last year, a fall of nine notches. Since 1997, when Malaysia was ranked in the 9th position, the country’s international competitiveness ranking had fallen disastrously by 16 places.

The second bad news was the release of the Transparency International’s 2000 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) -  continuing Malaysia’s annual freefall in the international corruption ranking since its first introduction in 1995, except for one year.

Malaysia was  placed 23rd in 1995, 26th place in 1996, and 32nd in 1997, 29th in 1998, 32nd in 1999 and 36th in 2000 in the Transparency International CPI. The only time when there was an improvement in Malaysia’s ranking in the corruption perception index was for the year 1998, largely because of the anti-corruption campaign led by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim the previous year before he was summarily and arbitrary sacked from government.

These were not the only adverse international assessments and perceptions raining on  Malaysia in the past year or two. Malaysia’s judiciary, the rule of law, press freedom and democracy had all become recent subjects of the  most unfavourable international scrutiny.

For instance, the international judicial and legal community issued a terrible indictment on the Malaysian system of justice in April in a report entitled "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000" - which neither the government nor the Malaysian judiciary could rebut although more than nine months had passed since it was first made available to the Malaysian authorities.

Last year, Malaysia was for the first time castigated by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the freedom of speech and expression.

This slew of adverse international assessments and evaluations about governance in Malaysia has been translated into a deterioration of international investor confidence in the Malaysian economy, and is one important reason why Malaysia is lagging behind other countries in the region to attract foreign direct investment.

Malaysians must be fully aware of the rising crescendo of adverse international assessments on Malaysian governance and convey their concerns to the Ministers and leaders in government to restore the nation’s international standing and regain investor confidence so that we do not degenerate into a pariah state like Myanmar.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman