Transparency International CPI 2004 for Malaysia should be “wake-up” call
that without systemic change and political will of the Cabinet, Parliament
and society to create a new culture of national integrity with zero
tolerance for corruption, there can be no appreciable dent in the fight
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament House, Thursday): The adverse Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2004 for Malaysia should be a “wake-up” call to the government and nation that without systemic change and political will of the Cabinet, Parliament and society to create a new culture of national integrity with zero tolerance for corruption, there can be no appreciable dent in the fight against graft.
Among the 146 countries surveyed in 2004, Malaysia was positioned at 39 with a score of 5 out of 10. In 2003, Malaysia was at no 37 in a survey covering 133 countries, having scored 5.2 out of 10.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should take seriously the adverse Transparency International CPI 2004 for Malaysia which was released yesterday, and initiate a wide-ranging national debate involving the Cabinet, Parliament, the civil society and the mass media as to why Malaysia had failed to improve either in the 2004 CPI ranking or score after a year of new commitment under his new premiership to declare an all-out war against graft, especially when other countries like Thailand and South Korea have been able to improve in both indicators in the past year.
Malaysians find the 2004 Transparency International CPI most shocking for while they do not expect stunning changes in both indicators, i.e. CPI ranking and score, they had expected minimal improvements in both.
Malaysians are therefore most disappointed that the 2004 Transparency International CPI released yesterday showed that Malaysia had slipped from last year’s 37th to 39th position, with a worsening CPI score of 5.0 as compared to 5.2 for the previous year.
In contrast, Thailand was able to improve on both its ratings, ranked No. 64 with CPI score of 3.6 as compared to No. 70 placing with CPI score of 3.3 for 2003; while South Korea improved its ranking from No. 50 in 2003 to No. 47 in 2004, raising its CPI score to 4.5 as compared to 4.3 last year.
Malaysia’s CPI score of 5.0 this year is in fact the third lowest in the ten years such indices have been computed since 1995, as shown by the following table:
Malaysia’s CPI Ranking and Score from 1995 – 2004
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
CPI country rank 23 26 32 29 32 36 36 33 37 39
CPI score 5.28 5.32 5.01 5.3 5.1 4.8 5.0 4.9 5.2 5.0
[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).]
The 2004 Transparency International CPI is an unfortunate confirmation of my warning during the budget debate in Parliament last month that the drafting and launching of a National Integrity Plan does not per se make a country clean and incorruptible or set it on the path to greater integrity.
I had pointed to Bolivia as an example of a country which had become more corrupt despite the launch of a national integrity plan. Bolivia launched a National Integrity Plan in 1998, when a survey showed that 80% of the Bolivian population thought that corruption was the most serious problem in the country.
Bolivia’s was ranked in the 69th position in the Transparency International CPI 1998, with a CPI score of 2.8. Five years after the launch of its National Integrity Plan, Bolivia’s ranking and score in the Transparency International CPI 2003 had both slipped further to No. 106 with a CPI score of 2.3. In the 2004 Transparency International CPI, Bolivia is ranked No. 122 with a CPI score of 2.2, in the company of the 32 most corrupt nations in the world!
What is being done in Malaysia to ensure that we do not end up like Bolivia with corruption becoming more widespread and deep-rooted despite the launching of a National Integrity Plan and more anti-corruption expenditures – especially as Malaysia is now perceived internationally as more corrupt from both CPI indicators as compared to the past year?
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman