Malaysia drops five spots in international corruption perceptions index

26 Jan 2022 09:11am
Illustrative purposes only. (Source: 123rf)
Illustrative purposes only. (Source: 123rf)

SHAH ALAM - Malaysia dropped five spots in the Transparency Perception Index 2021 (CPI 2021), ranking 62nd out of 180 countries in terms of public corruption.

In 2020, Malaysia was ranked 57, while in 2019 it was placed at 51.

This was the lowest since the methodology was revised in 2012.

The published report also showed Malaysia dropping to 48 out of 100 from 51 (2020) in terms of points.

With a CPI score of 48 for the first time since 2012, Malaysia is now grouped among two-thirds of the countries globally which have scores that are below 50.

The ranking of 100 means the country is very clean and zero means highly corrupt.

Malaysia's progress from 2012 to 2021. (From the CPI 2021 presentation)
Malaysia's progress from 2012 to 2021. (From the CPI 2021 presentation)

Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) president Dr Muhammad Mohan Mohan said this situation was deeply worrying when presenting the index.

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He said the drop was significant as Malaysia’s scores and position have been falling for the last two consecutive years, indicating that the country was heading in the wrong direction as far as fighting corruption, supporting human rights and democracy are concerned.

“The issue is accountability and transparency. These two qualities are important for a nation to do well,” he said.

Mohan said among the reasons also for the drop also includes Malaysia’s the stalled institutional reforms.

“The last four government lacked political will to table the Political Financing Bill.

“As such money politics is still rampant, even during elections.

“There has also been no progress on reforms to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission recommendations in 2015,” he said.

He added that the continued adverse reports on wrongdoings and poor governance by government officials in the Auditor-General’s report that goes unpunished were also reasons for the drop.

However, Mohan said there were positive developments such as the bipartisanship demonstrated by the government and opposition Pakatan Harapan via the memorandum of understanding, which outlined numerous reforms, last year.

He said this included reducing the minimum voting age to 18 and automatic voter registration as well as the Malaysia Agreement 63.

Dr Muhammad Mohan
Dr Muhammad Mohan

Mohan said TI-M also called for the scope of the Official Secret Acts to be narrowed so matters of public interest such directly negotiated contracts can be released without being defined as making compromises to national interest.

He said information should be shared transparently including uploading data on all public contracts, as well as regular updates on the status of high-profile cases.

"We need to adopt international standards of integrity in government procurement for transparency and good governance. The latest government circular failed to address this issue.

"The powers and independence for the enforcement agency integrity commission must also be enhanced." he said.

Reforms must also be done to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), he said, to make it fully independent and report to Parliament which requires amendments to MACC Act and the federal constitution.

The CPI 2021 showed that Denmark, Finland and New Zealand was ties at the top spot with the score of 88, followed by Norway with 85 points.

Singapore was the only Southeast Asian country to make it to the top 10 and was fifth in the world with a score of 85.

Within the region, Malaysia was in third place behind Singapore and Brunei, while among Muslim countries Malaysia is sixth, behind United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Brunei, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The CPI was developed by consolidating scores from a pool of up to 13 independent sources such as the Bertelsmann Transformation Index and the World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey.