DAP supports Abdullah’s proposal that Malaysia should come out with its own
corruption perception index but it must be one respected for its integrity
which commands national and international credibility
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament House, Thursday): DAP supports the proposal by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that Malaysia should come out with its own corruption perception index and not just depend on Transparency International, but it must be one respected for its integrity which commands national and international credibility and not regarded as an official attempt to play down or camouflage the gravity of corruption in the country.
Speaking on the need for research into the corruption perception index when visiting the Integrity Institute Malaysia (IIM) yesterday, Abdullah said:
“Apa yang kita fikir adalah perlu untuk kita adakan indeks kita. Selain itu, kita juga mahu mengambil kira indeks yang diguna pakai pada peringkat global oleh semua negara ketika ini.” (Berita Harian)
An annual Malaysian Corruption Perception Index will have the virtue of enabling a focus to monitor the status of integrity in each state and that of every state government as part of a deliberate and systematic programme to give top priority to anti-corruption efforts in the whole country.
Yesterday, Abdullah called for improvement in the government’s procurement system, pinpointing it as the cause for the decline in Malaysia’s ranking in the 2004 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, suffering the double whammy of falling from 37th to 39th position with the CPI score dropping from 5.2 to 5.0 as compared to the previous year.
Abdullah must take a more holistic approach on the deep-seated causes of Malaysia’s adverse 2004 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index and not just confine himself to one issue – the government’s procurement system - as without a betterment of the entire national integrity system, not much headway can be expected in the entire front of the war against corruption.
For instance, the erosion of press freedom in Malaysia as reflected by the nation’s adverse ranking in the Third Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index released yesterday by the international press organization, Reporters sans Frontier (RSF) must be regarded as a major weakness of Malaysia’s national integrity system undermining any serious campaign against corruption.
The Reporters sans Frontier (RSF) organization ranked Malaysia 122th out of 167 countries, a fall of 18 places from 104th ranking last year. What should be of grave concern to all Malaysians is that Malaysia is placed five places behind Indonesia (ranked No. 117) when last year, Malaysia at 104th placing was positioned six places as having greater press freedom than Indonesia, (ranked No. 110).
The time has come for Abdullah to give serious consideration to two strategic anti-corruption proposals to demonstrate that he has the political will to overcome all the resistance of the system to combat graft – the establishment of an Opposition-headed Parliamentary Committee on Corruption and the enactment of a Freedom of Information Act.
The Institute Integrity Malaysia (IIM) will confirm that the enactment of a Freedom of Information Act will bring about a sea change in the battle against corruption, as any IIM research will show that countries with access to information laws are also perceived to be the least corrupt. In 2004, of the ten countries scoring best in Transparency International’s CPI, nine had effective Freedom of Information legislation enabling the public to see government files. Of the ten countries perceived to be the worst when it comes to corruption, not even one had a functioning access to information regime.
The first act that IIM should do is to propose to Abdullah a Freedom of Information Act to be presented to Parliament when it reconvenes on November 22 so that it could be passed and placed on the statute books to commemorate the first anniversary of Abdullah’s premiership – which will be the most meaningful translation from rhetoric to deed Abdullah’s pledge of a clean, incorruptible, accountable, transparent and people-oriented government.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman