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CPI drop deeply disappointing

  • It's not corruption per se in its narrow concept, but the decline in good governance.

By Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam

As the former president of Transparency International Malaysia and now an honorary commissioner of MACC, I am deeply disappointed at Malaysia's poor performance in the International Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

We have dropped seven places from 55th to 62nd out of 180 countries.

Our CPI score has declined to 47, well below the perceived passing mark of 50!

This is the worst result in the last five years. It's not only deeply disappointing, but gravely disturbing and damaging to the country's aspiration of building the image of a developed or high income nation by 2020.

Why did the CPI fall so fast?

MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad, the whole MACC itself and indeed the government and the minister himself, must be very upset with the shocking CPI results!

The causes of the fall in CPI have been partially provided by Dzulkifli himself as an immediate and knowledgeable response.

He claims that it's the overall perception of the country. It's not corruption per se in its narrow concept, but the decline in good governance.

He is surely right!

This means that too much politicking, growing racial and religious intolerance, wastage of public funds, a weakening of morality and some big scandals, are also responsible for the poor CPI results. And don't forget the emerging money politics rearing its ugly head soon!

All the good work done by the MACC to fight corruption has been negated by the apparent inability to do more to contain grand corruption.

Although medium-sized and petty corruption could have been reduced, it is the grand corruption that matters in the view of Berlin-based Transparency International.

What can be done now to improve the CPI?

There are many recommendations made by TI-M and other NGOs that have been presented and pushed for a long time. But they have been dashed aside in the hope we can combat corruption within the current framework of governance.

This mild approach can't achieve much, as the latest depressing CPI results have shown.

What is needed are more radical and meaningful structural reforms. For example, MACC should be made responsible only to the Parliament and report directly to the Parliament.

The Whistleblowers Act must also be improved to encourage more whistleblowers to come out without fear of being charged and convicted themselves.

In that case, who would want to be a whistleblower? And who would have trust and faith in the struggle against corruption?

MACC should become a more independent body, too, with full powers to hire and fire its staff who would not be beholden to government employment.

There are many other global best practices to adopt, if we are really serious to combat corruption more effectively.


There is no need for the MACC to ask the government for feedback or direction on what to do next to get out of the corruption trap.

MACC is fully aware of what has to be done.

Let's hope the MACC will give the cabinet a full and honest appraisal on what has gone wrong and what needs to be urgently done to prevent further deterioration in the CPI before GE14 in a few weeks' time.

And let the rakyat judge the future direction of fighting corruption, which is causing inflation, undermining national unity and destroying our national soul!

God bless Malaysia!

(Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam is the Chairman of ASLI Center for Public Policy Studies.)


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