Corruption index: Thumbs up to government but not police
Datuk Paul Low Local TRANSPARENCY International Malaysia (TI-M)
NADIRAH H. RODZI
Friday, December 10th, 2010 13:02:00
LOW: Perception on petty corruption has improved but the public still perceive that not much has been done on grand corruption
KUALA LUMPUR: The positive perception by Malaysians of the government’s actions in fighting corruption has jumped drastically compared with last year.
However, police led the opinion poll on the agency perceived to be the most corrupt.
These were the findings of the Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) 2010 survey, which was unveiled this morning at the Royal Selangor Club, here.
Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) president Datuk Paul Low revealed that 48 per cent of Malaysians polled thought the government’s actions were effective, 32 per cent were neutral while 20 per cent reckoned the government’s actions were ineffective.
“This is a drastic turnaround from the previous year where 28 per cent thought the government’s actions were effective, six per cent were neutral and 67 per cent deemed the government’s actions ineffective.
“The 48 per cent mark substantially exceeds the government’s key performance index (KPI) of 37 per cent. However, the government did not meet its 4.9 KPI target for its corruption perception index (CPI). Its current score of 4.4 is almost the same as last year’s 4.5,” Low said.
He said the positive perception could be due to the government’s initiative to address corruption. Among those cited by Low were:
● Integrity as a National Key Result Area (NKRA), with improvement in the CPI score from 4.5 to 4.9 as a KPI
● The formation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) with more power and autonomy, as well as review by independent panels
● The establishment of the Whistleblower Protection Act, which will come into force on Sunday, to expose corruption by protecting whistleblowers and for Malaysia to meet its obligations under the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)
● TI’s Integrity Pacts (IP) to be implemented in government procurement (Treasury directive dated April 1, 2010)
● Government guidelines on “support letters”, where verbal and written letters must be filed and reported. Support letters cannot be a factor in decision-making while reports are to be made to the department or relevant agencies, for example the MACC
● The launch of the MyProcurement website on April 1 which makes transparent the tender-awarding process
● The formation of 18 special corruption courts and amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code to expedite corruption trials currently in progress
● The “name and shame” method in the Convicted Corruption Offenders Database on MACC’s website, displaying convicted offenders’ details, charges and sentences, as well as photographs
● The establishment of compliance units in key enforcement agencies like the police, Road Transport Department, Customs Department, Immigration Department and the MACC.
On a less positive note, the police were perceived to be the most corrupt institution with a score of 4.1, followed by political parties (4) and the Parliament (3.4).
Low said although the public’s confidence in the government’s aim to fight corruption had risen, there were indications of insufficient political will to eradicate corruption.
“Perception on petty corruption has improved but the public still perceive that not much has been done on grand corruption. For example, no big fishes being brought to book, poor progress in identifying and prosecuting culpable persons in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) fiasco; no further action by the Attorney-General against those implicated in judicial appointment tampering like the VK Lingam tapes, despite the Royal Commission’s findings and recommendations; the continuing and snowballing practice of awarding mega projects and contracts without open tenders or competitive bidding; and IPs yet to be implemented.”
TIM also recommended the government go one step further by making MACC more independent and autonomous.
“No one is above the law. It should report directly to a Parliamentary committee and be given prosecution powers, thereby reforming financing and regulation of political parties, elections and public disclosure of politicians’ assets.
“The government should promote freedom of information by repealing or drastically curbing legislation, such as the Official Secrets Act, Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act. Effective and vigorous enforcement of laws and policies should be carried out, including on suspects in high-profile cases involving money laundering and transfers,” Low said.
Meanwhile, TI revealed the global perception of corruption in the media decreased to 2.7 this year from 3.7 in 2009.
“Forty-four per cent thought the media was e ffective in fighting corruption. A lot of countries rely on their Press, thus investigative journalism is important. Our media should not be afraid to highlight the truth for fear of their licences being revoked.”
The barometer, now in its seventh edition, covers 86 countries. It was carried out between June 1 and Sept 30 this year.
In Malaysia, 1,008 individuals aged 16 and above were surveyed using face-to-face method, with 57 per cent hailing from urban areas and 43 per cent residing in rural areas.
Local sampling was done by TNS Malaysia.