The battle to root the cancer of corruption in Malaysia and establish integrity in leadership will be a lost cause it is done on an ad-hoc basis through appointing one person without any systemic reform of governance. Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is only paying lip service and indulging in empty rhetoric with his vow to make corruption a part of Malaysia’s past and not its future.
Creating a new governance and integrity ministry and appointing former Transparency International- Malaysia(TI-M) Paul Low to the job is merely an insignificant matter of style over substance. Changing personalities without transforming policies that can effectively combat corruption is akin to putting old wine in new bottles.
Systemic reforms requires Najib to adopt 6 integrity measures to fight corruption and establish clean governance.
Failure to adopt the 6 integrity measures have questioned Najib’s commitment and sincerity. According to the latest March 2013 TI-M Global Corruption Barometer, only 31% of respondents thought the Malaysian government had been effective in fighting corruption, down from 49% in 2011. Worse Malaysia as the most corrupt country in the world for business according to TI’s 2012 Bribe Payers Survey.
The losses from corruption in Malaysia has been estimated from a self-confessed RM 27 billion yearly by a government Minister to nearly a one trillion ringgit estimated by Washington-based Global Financial Integrity Report over the last 10 years in the form of illicit outflow of funds. TI’s latest Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index, placed Malaysia in the “very high” risks of corruption on defence procurement and operations, on the same level as Zimbabwe.
Corruption is so ingrained within the BN political culture that it is said that, “if corruption is not wiped out, Malaysia dies; if corruption is wiped out, BN dies”. BN must be willing to prove this wrong by making fighting corruption the central thrust of government through institutional measures and not merely making fine-sounding speeches overseas.
It is meaningless for Najib to talk about elevating Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission(MACC) to a self-regulated, independent commission status when there is no public trust in MACC’s effectiveness and commitment to fight corruption without fear or favour. No action so far has been taken against the unaccounted and extraordinary wealth of Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and the custodial deaths in MACC of Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbaini .
MACC can even refuse to act on money politics detected during the UMNO elections because MACC regard such corruption as an internal party matter and that Umno’s disciplinary board should act against corruption instead of MACC. No wonder businessmen consider Malaysia the world champion in corruption for doing business.