KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 — Tan Sri Azam Baki’s view that Transparency International Malaysia’s (TI-M) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) was not based on “facts” but merely “perception” reflects a lack of understanding of how the Index works, the group said today.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief told the media last week that the CPI was not indicative of the country’s actual situation, arguing that it only measured perceived graft.
TI-M president Muhammad Mohan explained that while the CPI has never been represented as a “true measure of corruption” since its inception in 1995, it was globally accepted as a “measured indicator” on developments in participating countries.
“A country’s score is given based on several surveys and expert assessments, which looks at various factors in a country including democratic aspects, openness to foreign investors and economic factors,” Muhammad said in a statement.
He said that the CPI also helps to indicate a country’s economic and political status and its tendency to engage in corruption, and signal to relevant authorities on corruption problems that need more attention.
Such criticism of the index was not new, he added when noting previous suggestions for Malaysia to be omitted entirely from the CPI.
However, Muhammad said that Malaysia’s decline in ladder should be seen as a chance to improve, instead of a reason to back out.
“Looking at the background of the said critics, TI-M is somewhat ambivalent about why they choose not to accept the fact that Malaysia’s position in the CPI has declined.
“These same persons were quick to cheer when the country’s ranking was said to be good, as was the case for the 2019 report when Malaysia for the first time managed to improve its score from 47 to 53 and improve its position from 61 to 51 out of 180 countries in the world. On such occasions, these parties accepted the CPI with open hearts.
“Surely the maturity of a nation is measured by the ability to accept bitter findings, thinking deeply and figuring out together how to improve the country’s position,” Muhammad said.
Instead of doubting the credibility of the CPI, the TI-M president urged for more focus to be put towards combating corruption, getting a better score and achieving the goals of the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP).
“Like it or not, Malaysia’s success in improving its position in the CPI for 2019 was a very proud achievement.
“This shows that we have the knowledge and the people who are given the responsibility to determine planning and policies related to integrity, governance, and anti-corruption know what needs to be done and have succeeded in restoring the country’s image in the eyes of the world.
“This is empirical evidence that cannot be denied by any party — that Malaysia can be among the best countries in this corruption perception index,” he said.
Muhammad said that for Malaysia to go up the ranks, it needs to become a more democratic country that attracts investors for business, and emphasised that it will require every agency, ministry and citizen to work together.
“Unfortunately, many of us today seem complacent and do not continue the concrete efforts to combat corruption in an exhaustive manner that was started in 2018 through the initiatives contained in the NACP.
“The country needs to maintain a continued strong momentum in increasing the score or points, which is the determinant of the country’s position in the index.
“There is no shortcut to achieving the goal of making Malaysia a truly corruption-free country. Efforts to achieve those objectives must be carried out with full discretion, vigour and commitment,” he said.
Based on a Sinar Harian report, the CPI gathers data from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Risk Service and IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook to take into account the expert analyses from Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Asian Intelligence and Varieties of Democracy.
“CPI sees corruption in its entirety and not like some of us who assume that corruption is related to the work solely done by the MACC.
“We need to look at the perception of corruption in a country such as Malaysia from various angles of the role of government agencies and ministries. This includes the responsibility of enacting a new legislative framework related to democracy and empowering the MACC, strengthening the implementation of the NACP, providing provisions related to the approval of investment and business applications and ensuring the government’s open attitude in guaranteeing the interests of the people and stakeholders.
“If no improvement, correction and empowerment actions are taken, the perception of the people and those surveyed by TI will continue and Malaysia’s score in the CPI will not change, and there is even a possibility of falling further,” Muhammad said.
Launched in January 2019, the five-year NACP plan had only achieved 33 per cent of its goals.
The NACP had outlined six key areas to be given focus: political governance, public sector administration, public procurement, legal and judicial, law enforcement and corporate governance.