Malaysia making no headway to compete with Finland as the world’s least corrupt nation but has instead slipped from 33rd to 37th placing in latest 2003 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index released yesterday
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): When attending the Transparency International (TI) Malaysia National Integrity Medal award ceremony on 28th June 2003, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said that Malaysia must compare its public behaviour on national integrity with Finland, which tops the world as the least corrupt and most ethical country in the past three years in the annual TI’s Corruption Perception Index.
He said: “I know we have some way to go, but given the level of public support the Anti-Corruption Agency now enjoys, and the wide-ranging anti-corruption measures now firmly in place, we can get to be among the highest ranking countries.”
Based on Mahathir’s call to Malaysia to compete with Finland for the ranking as the world’s least corrupt nation, DAP submitted a memorandum to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) in early August proposing a 10-year Anti-Corruption Action Plan to compete with Finland and be ranked among the world’s five least corrupt countries in the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by 2013.
However, the ACA has not shown that it has the vision, mission or objective to accept Mahathir’s challenge for the nation to compete with Finland on the anti-corruption front - with an avalanche of bad news in the past two months about a general breakdown of public integrity and moral standards.
Even before the Education Ministry could give a report on its investigations into the RM140 million East Coast computer laboratory scandal, another education scandal had expoded – the Sunday Mail report on Sunday about irregularities in the award of Education Ministry contracts worth a total of RM20 million to companies supplying scientific equipment to several matriculation colleges.
There is the scandal of cloned state government cheques which siphoned off RM3.1 million from the Penang State treasury over the past two months, as well hitting other state governments such as Malacca, Selangor and Sabah, resulting in the ludicrous suggestion of embedding microchips into cheques to prevent forgery and falsification of government financial transactions.
And most horrendous of all, Parliament has joined the Road Transport Department, the Land Office, the Police, the local authorities, as places where corruption and financial malpractices are rife and rampant, with the scandal of excessive parliamentary claims by Members of Parliament, compounded by the lack of will by MPs to immediately restore public confidence by making public all parliamentary claims, whether meeting or meeting, to subject them to public scrutiny as well as instituting a full inquiry through its Committee of Privileges.
There was another blow to Malaysia yesterday when the Transparency International released its 2003 Corruption Perception Index, which showed that Malaysia is making no headway to compete with Finland as the world’s least corrupt nation but has instead slipped from last year’s 33rd placing to 37th position, although there is an improvement in the CPI score – 5.2 this year as compared to 4.9 last year. However the CPI score this year is lower than three of the nine years where such indices had been computed i.e. 1995, 1996 and 1998.
In contrast, however, Finland has kept its world top placing as the cleanest country with a CPI 2003 score of 9.7, followed by Iceland 9.6, Denmark 9.5, New Zealand 9.5, Singapore 9.4, Sweden 9.3 and Netherlands 8.9.
Malaysia’s CPI Ranking and Score from 1995 – 2003 are as follows:
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
CPI country rank 23 26 32 29 32 36 36 33 37
CPI score 5.28 5.32 5.01 5.3 5.1 4.8 5.0 4.9 5.2
CPI Score relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people, academics and risk analysts, and ranges between 10 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt).
Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called for “swift and heavy” enforcement against the corrupt and for procedures to be tightened to prevent abuse of power in the public service, declaring that dereliction of duty should never be tolerated as the people’s trust was at stake.
The TI CPI 2003 is the latest proof that 46 years after Independence, the time has come for an all-out war against corruption and no more exhortations, and I call on Abdullah to declare such a war when he becomes Prime Minister on Nov. 1.
Malaysia does not lack anti-corruption laws, infrastructure, personnel and expertise to make the quantum leap to be among the world’s least corrupt countries as what is sorely lacking is the political will and stamina.
If Abdullah is prepared to inject the political will and stamina for a full-scale war against corruption and to create a new culture of political integrity with zero tolerance for corruption, there is no reason why Malaysia cannot begin to make leaps and bounds into the higher rankings in the annual TI Corruption Perception Index from next year onwards.
Parliament should on its part show its seriousness on the anti-corruption front by scheduling a special debate on the TI’s Corruption Perception Index 2003 and underline the importance of having the political will and stamina to sustain an all-out war against corruption.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman