UN SG should explain whether Dmitri Vlassis' praises for Malaysian government's anti-corruption campaign reflects the official stand of the world body and UNODC
In the past few days, I have been receiving negative reactions from Malaysians to the recently-held 6th annual conference and general meeting of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) in Kuala Lumpur, and in particular the praises given by the highest-level representative from the United Nations anti-corruption agency to the Malaysian government for its anti-corruption campaign.
During the IAACA Conference in Kuala Lumpur last weekend, Dmitri Vlassis, the head of the UN’s Corruption and Economic Crime Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), commended the Malaysian government for its “serious efforts” at tackling corruption.
This has horrified anti-corruption campaigners in Malaysia as they regard this as a major blow by the United Nations anti-corruption agency undermining their efforts to get the Najib government to have the political will to really walk the talk to fight corruption, in particular “Grand Corruption” involving VVIPs, especially top political and public personalities.
Furthermore, they are mystified as to how the Malaysian government could merit praise for its anti-corruption efforts when from the 17-year history of Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Malaysia’s ranking and score for 2011 on both counts is lowest on record – ranking No. 60 and score of 4.3 when in 1995 Malaysia was ranked No. 23 and attained a score of 5.32 in 1996.
In simple terms, TI CPI 2011 underlined the brutal fact that corruption in Malaysia under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is worse and more intractable than at any time under his predecessors, whether the five years under Tun Abdullah or the 22 years under Tun Mahathir.
To add insult to injury, Vlassis also used the IACAA Conference to run down the credibility and usefulness of TI CPI, dismissing it as “outdated”, “counter-productive” and “does not serve anyone’s purpose”.
As a result, Vlassis appeared to be sending out the message to Malaysians that they do not have to be overly worried about Malaysia dropping to the worst 60th ranking and the lowest 4.3 score in 17 years of TI CPIs.
There are weaknesses to the annual TI CPI, but has Vlassis a better alternative to help countries to keep track of progress or regression of their anti-corruption campaigns – seven years after the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) came into force in 2005?
Anti-corruption activists and campaigners in Malaysia want to know why Vlassis is condoning or seeking to “cover up” the failures of the government’s anti-corruption campaign in Malaysia, in particular in the past 42 months of Najib premiership despite the fanfare about the Government Transformation Programme and NKRA on fighting corruption.
Vlassis will no doubt be quoted extensively by the Najib government, whether in Parliament or outside, as testimonial of its success on the anti-corruption front, when it has not only a poor record in its anti-corruption campaign but a most dismal one as far as “Grand corruption” involving VVIPs is concerned whether involving the Chief Ministers of Sarawak and Sabah or the Attorney-General.
This is why the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should explain whether Dmitri Vlassis’ praises for Malaysian government’s anti-corruption campaign reflect the official stand of the world body and UNODC, before the United Nations and UNODC are quoted liberally in and out of Parliament as stamps of approval by world organizations for the anti-corruption campaigns of the Najib premiership.