KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s regression in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2022 calls for the urgency to fight corruption, said the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center).
C4 Center, in a statement today said it was deeply troubled by Malaysia’s score of 47 points, which positions Malaysia as a struggling nation desperate to rise beyond the worsening socio-political and economic depression perpetuated by widespread corruption.
Malaysia’s deplorable score is largely due to the evident lack of political will among lawmakers to strategically and effectively address corruption that, by now, has become institutionalised.
It described the Transparency International’s latest report, as an “eye-opener” in highlighting the weaknesses of the Malaysian government’s administrative framework and institutions in fighting corruption, potentially further permeating into the lives of the rakyat.
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“Malaysia is ranked at the 61st spot alongside countries like China, Cuba, Armenia and Jordan (out of a total of 180 countries); backtracking by six points within the span of these three to four years (2019 to 2022).
“It is worth noting that last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim declared that corruption is the main threat against the nation. It is now more important than ever for the Prime Minister to ‘put action’ into his words by carrying out long overdue reforms.
“The continual slide in perceptions will also have a negative economic impact in terms of foreign investors’ confidence at a time when Malaysia needs all the support it can get to revitalise a troubled economy,” the statement read.
Malaysia ranked 62nd in 2021 with a score of 48, 57th in 2020 (score of 57), 51st in 2019 (score of 51) and 61st in 2018 (score of 61).
In view of the latest development, C4 Center has called on the government to look into any outstanding and critical reform efforts, particularly those aligned with the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) 2019-2023 initiatives.
Among others, C4 Center has urged the government to revise and amend the existing Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 to allow disclosure to external parties, such as media, members of Parliament, civil society organisations, and other bodies not listed by the Act.
It also called on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to be reformed to include granting its full independence and autonomy in its investigative capacity as the central corruption-fighting body, freeing it from any undue influence or intervention from external parties, such as the executive.
“In addition, an oversight entity to oversee MACC’s appointments for the post of Chief Commissioner, its budget, and manpower-related areas should be set up.”
C4 Center also emphasised on the separation of the Attorney General and the Public Prosecutor office, to ensure the independence of prosecuting cases.
“The government should also enact the Political Funding/Financing Act to curb the culture of ‘money politics’ deeply ingrained within Malaysia’s political system.
“The authorities need to legislate a Public Procurement Act over the practice of merely issuing countless Treasury circulars and directives that have led to curb mass wastages, leakages and abuses in procurement of public projects, being the most vulnerable area of administration exposed to corruption.
“Having a law to govern it will minimise direct negotiations, thus increasing transparency and encouraging inclusivity for public participation and scrutiny in matters relating to procurement for the people’s welfare.”
In addition, the government should mandate the practice of Asset Declaration. C4 Center in collaboration with the Bar Council had previously prepared a Public Asset Declaration Framework that could be integrated within the existing legal framework, demonstrating the current administration’s commitment to the principles of upholding integrity, transparency and accountability to the people.
“The battle against corruption can no longer be taken for granted. To that end, the government is advised to approach reforms with greater conviction and, at the same time, engage more closely with civil society members, so as to strengthen public confidence in the government’s commitment to this matter.
“When the rule of law takes a back seat in the face of unabated corruption, civil rights, democracy, and the lives of Malaysians will ultimately pay the price.”