Malaysia gets ‘D’ in global watchdog’s survey on defence corruption

File photo of TI-M president Datuk Akhbar Satar. TI-M today called for the establishment of a parliamentary committee to oversee the defence and security sector in order to curb the risk of political corruption. — Picture by Zurairi AR
File photo of TI-M president Datuk Akhbar Satar. TI-M today called for the establishment of a parliamentary committee to oversee the defence and security sector in order to curb the risk of political corruption. — Picture by Zurairi AR

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 — Malaysia scored a “D” in a Transparency International survey this year that indicated a high risk of corruption in the defence sector, worse than Singapore’s “B” grade.

The Malaysian chapter of the global anti-graft body, Transparency-International Malaysia (TI-M), expressed concern with Malaysia’s score in the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index (GI 2015), despite the country doing slightly better than the previous GI 2013 survey in which Malaysia scored a “D-”.

“With formal regulations governing the actions of military personnel and independent investigative organisations like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Malaysia is in a good place to build its anti-corruption framework,” TI-M president Datuk Akhbar Satar said in a statement today.

“But significant vulnerabilities to corruption persist as a result of a weak legislative scrutiny, opaque budgets, weak whistleblower protections, and insufficient anti-corruption training in institutions,” he added.

According to the GI survey, Malaysia scored an “E”, which means a “very high” risk of defence corruption, in the operations risk category.

Malaysia’s best-performing category was personnel risk, in which the country scored a “C”.

Malaysia was graded “D” in the other categories measured—political risk, financial risk and procurement risk.

TI-M called for the establishment of a parliamentary committee to oversee the defence and security sector in order to curb the risk of political corruption.

“This committee should have the power to access a fully detailed defence budget and internal audit reports; be able to call expert witnesses and scrutinise defence agencies and institutions; meet regularly and publish reports on its activity,” said Akhbar.

He noted that the Malaysian legislature currently does not receive detailed information on the defence budget, including secret items, leading to a lack of scrutiny on defence spending and procurement decisions.

“TI-M recommends that the government publish an annual defence budget that includes detailed information on expenditure across functions including research and design, training, salaries, acquisitions, disposal of assets, maintenance and personnel expenditures and appropriately lengthens the time that budget items can be discussed by the Parliament,” said Akhbar.

TI-M noted that graft is a high-risk issue for the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).

“TI-M recommends Malaysia adopt an operational doctrine which specifically recognises corruption risks as a strategic operational issue; provides comprehensive and systematic training and guidance for commanders and personnel on corruption risks faced in operations, including in contracting, and deploy trained professionals capable of monitoring corruption in the field who regularly report while on mission, with these reports made available to the public, at least in summary form,” said Akhbar.

He also called for procurement of defence equipment to be based on open tenders.

“It is only appropriate to procure and place several radars in various islands in Esscom areas instead of installing one big radar at one area which is very costly and ineffective to monitor the vast areas to be combed,” Akhbar added.

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