KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) is concerned about Malaysia’s five-spots drop in Transparency International’s most recent Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2021, having dropped from a ranking of 57th out of 180 countries in 2020 to 62nd in 2021. 

Scoring wise, Malaysia scored 48 out of 100 points in 2021, compared to its 2020 score of 51, placing Malaysia among two-thirds of countries globally which have scores that are below 50.

IDEAS attributes this to several factors, including the lack of political will from various government agencies, organisations and influential individuals to combat corruption. 
A clear example of this has been the incomplete investigation and rushed acquittal of embattled Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commision (MACC) Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Azam bin Baki.

“Another issue has been the lack of reforms concerning the MACC since 2015”, argues IDEAS CEO, Tricia Yeoh.

“Clear attention must be paid to this, otherwise Malaysia’s CPI scoring will continue to suffer moving forward. We should also consider the fact that the uncontrolled political appointments into Government-linked Companies (GLCs) following the installation of the Perikatan Nasional government could have also further deteriorated our score over the year, as it caused more inflow of unchecked funding into the commercial areas of said GLCs.”

IDEAS also noted that there has been seemingly little implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP), which seeks to create a corrupt-free nation through three specific goals, including ensuring:
(i) Accountability and Credibility of Judiciary, Prosecution and Law Enforcement Agencies; 
(ii) Efficiency and Responsiveness in Public Service Delivery, and 
(iii) Integrity in Business.

Tricia also added: “We should also consider that poorly managed bureaucracies and government institutions play a part. Our own research into corruption in Malaysia’s supply chains reveals how embedded it is, with public officials often taking advantage of a lack of public knowledge over the roles and responsibilities that comes with their positions in order to abuse it.”  

“Finally, there is the issue of unregulated political funding and political interference in government administration and finances. The lack of proper oversight of political donations as well as public funding impacts other areas of public policy, including public procurement and good governance.”

IDEAS offered three possible solutions to Malaysia’s currently low CPI scoring:

Progress needs to be made on recommended reforms concerning the MACC in 2015, including:

1.Creation of an Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC) as a constitutional commission;

-Amendment to the MACC Act 2009 (Section 23 – Misconduct of Public Officials) (Section 36 – Corporate Liability);

-Reform of other laws including the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2010, Official Secret Act 1972 and Witness Protection Act 2009.

2.Actual progress on National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) that is transparently reported on to the public;

3.Ensuring the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption (GIACC) acts on its mandate to facilitate and monitor integrity in public institutions.

As Tricia concludes, “Ultimately, failure to undertake these necessary reforms and changes will have severe ramifications in both the short and long term. In the short term, it will negatively impact Malaysia's post-COVID-19 and post-flooding recovery efforts. 
In the long term, it will damage the confidence and trust of foreign investors towards the Malaysian economy, as well as degrade public confidence towards government and public institutions.”