Serious measures needed to fight corruption, improve perception

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Coverage by: NST

KUALA LUMPUR: The government must embark on effective anti-corruption reforms if it is serious in wanting to improve in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism acting chief executive officer Pushpan Murugiah said it was important to note that the CPI ranks countries by perceived levels of public sector corruption.

“This means that if the current administration seeks to increase Malaysia’s ranking, tangible policies and reforms must be implemented in order to increase public trust in our institutions.

“The previous National Anti-Corruption Plan provided many avenues for reforms which should be re-examined and executed by this government in order to comprehensively overhaul systems which are utilised to facilitate corruption.

“This includes ensuring the independence of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, separating the offices of the Attorney-General from the public prosecutor and regulating the mode of public appointments in statutory bodies and government linked companies.

“It is also introducing other laws governing political funding, asset declaration and the right to information,” he told the New Straits Times today.

Pushpan said this following Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s aspiration to place the country in the top 25 nations in the world and in the CPI.

In 2022, Malaysia scored 47 points, far from 100 perceived to be very clean, according to Transparency International Malaysia.

In 2019, the country’s score was 53, marking a fall of six points in the span of three years.

Pushpan said instances of vote buying and patronage which were commonly used by previous administrations must not be allowed to repeat under Anwar’s government.

He cited examples of deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s recent announcement of a federal grant for Terengganu youth which could be increased if a “blue and red wave” occurs in the upcoming state elections.

“Decisions of this nature could very easily lead to further entrenchment of corruption within Malaysian society which is in direct contravention of Anwar’s stated goals,” added Pushpan.

Separately, Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections chairman Thomas Fann said it was in support of the idea of benchmarking against global independent indexes such as the CPI.

He said it may be unrealistic for Malaysia to be in the top 25 in the ranking within a year or two.

“But if it could move upward by 10 ranks, it would be a significant improvement. To achieve better CPI, the government must do two things.

“It must act against all forms of corruption and indict them in court regardless of their status.

“The second is to enact laws that deal with corruption such as the Political Financing Act and give stronger protection to whistleblowers,” said Fann.




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