Malaysia improves ranking in world corruption index [Updated]

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has improved its global corruption perception ranking for 2023 but an anti-graft watchdog has warned that any celebration may be cut short due to the ongoing "worrying trend" taking place in the country.

According to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2023 announced by Transparency International Malaysia (TI - M) today, the country scored 50 points compared to 47 points the previous year.

The increase in three points in the survey conducted up to August last year helped Malaysia to climb to 57th position in the CPI for 2023 compared to 61st in 2022.

TI-M president Dr Muhammad Mohan said while the country's rebound in the CPI 2023 was good news, he feared that worrying trends including Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid's discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) in the Yayasan Akalbudi case may affect Malaysia's rankings this year.

"The DNAA was granted sometime in September last year. Most probably such a development was not captured in the survey for the CPI 2023 since it only reflected incidents (perception of corruption incidences) until August last year.

"When the DNAA issue came up, many people started researching and learning about it to the point that even the makcik selling pisang goreng (banana fritters) by the roadside knows what a DNAA is all about.

"My biggest concern is that our ranking in the CPI (for 2024) will take a dip. Therefore, do not be happy that we have improved by three points. This is the point that I want to drive home here today," he said.

Muhammad added that while Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's directive for enhancing good governance and setting a national target CPI target to be in the top 25 in the global ranking by the year 2033 is commendable and has help to improve Malaysia's ranking in 2023, TI-M wanted to see the government roll out a concrete plan to achieve such a target.

"While the government has set an ambitious but achievable CPI target in 10 years, it has not shared how Malaysia is to achieve it.

"Without clear plans with milestones and mini targets in the next 10 years, we may be disappointed, just like how past CPI targets were not met," he said.

Other worrying trends included the lack of transparency on the development of mega projects.

"We still do not see the public release of crucial supporting information (needs analysis, financial justification/cost benefit, government guarantees) to justify planned mega projects such as MRT3, HSR (High Speed Rail).

"Given the anticipated taxpayer's money that will be involved, it is important that thorough and audited reviews and assessments are conducted to justify the projects."

Moving forward, Muhammad said TI-M proposed several suggestions for the country to improve its ranking in the CPI including accelerating the move to separate the powers between the attorney-general and public prosecutor and ending political appointments for positions in government-linked agencies.

"Make the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) more independent. For example, currently, the appointment of the MACC chief commissioner by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is on the recommendation of the prime minister.

"What we want to see is to take the prime minister out of the equation and let the selection process in the appointment of the MACC chief commissioner as well as the tenure of office be made by a special parliamentary select committee.

"We also want to see amendments in the Whistle Blower Protection Act 2010 since the present legislation has flaws and weaknesses.

"I was told that the government was supposed to table the changes (amendment to the act) in Parliament in October last year. However, somebody put a spanner in it, and (the tabling of the amendments to the act) was withdrawn at the very last minute," he said.

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