C4 Centre: Lack of political will underscores Malaysia’s slide in global corruption index

THE weaknesses of Malaysian government administrative framework and institutions in fighting corruption is glaring with the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Centre) is deeply troubled by Malaysia’s dismal score of 47 points which ranked the country at the 61st spot alongside countries like China, Cuba Armenia and Jordan.

The damaging result positions Malaysia as a struggling nation desperate to rise beyond the worsening socio-political and economic depression perpetuated by widespread corruption.

“One of the main reasons for Malaysia’s deplorable score was the evident lack of political will among lawmakers to strategically and effectively address corruption that, by now, has become institutionalised,” C4 Centre highlighted in a media statement.

“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.”

In view of such development, C4 Centre urged the government to look into any outstanding and critical reform efforts, particularly those aligned to the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) 2019-2023 initiatives.

“C4 Centre remains steadfast in advocating for robust institutional reforms and stands ready to provide assistance to realise the many initiatives discussed and proposed under the NACP,” the non-governmental organisation (NGO) which promotes good and clean governance in Malaysia pointed out.

“The corruption that threatens to undermine the nation’s institutions in favour of the self-interests of certain individuals must be arrested before Malaysia’s governance worsens to the point of no return.”

Towards this end, it proposed six recommendations for the government:

Pic credit: Forbes
  • 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.

In the same vein, accord public interest defence to whistleblowers who disclose information despite being prohibited by written laws such as Official Secrets Act 1972, Section 133 of Financial Services Act 2013 as well as Section 203A of the Penal Code;

  • Reform the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to include granting it full independence and autonomy in their investigative capacity as the central corruption-fighting body, freeing it from any undue influence or intervention from external parties, ie, 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;

  • Separation of the Attorney-General (AG) and the Public Prosecutor office to ensure the independence of prosecuting cases;
  • Enact the Political Funding/Financing Act to curb the culture of ‘money politics’ deeply ingrained within Malaysia’s political system. Rent seeking and patronage practices provide an avenue for the nexus between politics and business to persist, thus proliferating conflict of interest and abuse of power;
  • 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; and

  • Mandate the practice of asset declaration. Towards this end, C4 Centre in collaboration with the Bar Council had previously prepared a Public Asset Declaration Framework (PADF) 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. – Feb 1, 2023

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