TI-M: Weak enforcement of corruption laws close to ‘criminal negligence’

In the private sector, Akhbar (left) said some firms only implemented 'very limited' policies against graft, and suggested that they work together with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to improve matters. — Picture by Hari Anggara
In the private sector, Akhbar (left) said some firms only implemented 'very limited' policies against graft, and suggested that they work together with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to improve matters. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — Authorities can be considered almost “criminally” negligent in their failure to strictly enforce the country’s strong laws against corruption, according to a Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) report released today.

In its inaugural Business Integrity Country Agenda (BICA), the watchdog gave Malaysia 100 across the board for its comprehensive laws to prohibit bribery of public officials, commercial bribery, laundering of crime proceeds, and collusion.

However, the same areas were all given marks of 50 when evaluated in terms of their enforcement.

Each area is scored from 0 to 100 by intervals of 25; 100 indicates that all requirements from the United Nations Convention Against Corruption 2004 were fulfilled while 0 shows that none was met.

Speaking at the launch, TI-M president Datuk Akhbar Satar said the findings made it clear where to concentrate reform efforts

“Malaysia has scored well in part of the indicator on legislations in the public sector in the BICA report.

“However, having laws that were not strictly enforced is like having a medicine chest full of the most wonderful modern drugs and not using them to treat a dangerously sick person on his last leg.

“By any yardstick, this would be considered criminal negligence,” he said in his speech at BICA report launch at the Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur here today.

This was not significantly better in the private sector, however, as Akhbar noted that some among the 30 firms taking part in the study failed to implement anti-corruption regimes.

He said some firms only implemented “very limited” policies against graft, and suggested that they work together with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to improve matters.

“Senior management participation is lacking in terms of commitment towards anti-corruption programmes. Even public-listed companies do not show high level of commitment,” he said.

TI-M also made several recommendations for all stakeholders that could help improve business integrity across the board.

Among these were to ensure MACC’s funding came directly from Parliament to ensure its independence and for it to target a 95-per cent conviction rate for cases prosecuted.

“The Parliament should also expedite the amendment of the MACC Act 2009 by incorporating the corporate liability clause into the Act.

“This is something we have discussed since 2010 but has yet to materialise, eight years later,” he said.

The BICA report is finalised after extensive discussions with a team of independent researchers, including renowned academician Prof Terence Gomez, and its findings will be submitted to relevant stakeholders soon.

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