UN rep clarifies, comments on corruption misreported


By Susan Loone | 9:02AM Oct 17, 2012
Malaysiakini

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) representative who reportedly praised the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) at an international conference said his comments have been misread by the media.

Dimitri Vlassis (left), who is chief of UNODC’s corruption and economic crime branch, said some of his comments and responses during the press conference held in Kuala Lumpur 10 days ago were misunderstood or taken out of context.

Vlassis said he wanted to offer clarifications as consequently those comments were “misinterpreted and may have created erroneous” impressions.

According to the UN representative, he commended the MACC for organising the 6th annual conference and general meeting of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) in Kuala Lumpur.

During the press conference, Vlassis said he was asked about the IAACA conference and whether it was worth the expenditure.

“I responded that IAACA was the only home of anti-corruption agencies and that the conference served the very useful purpose of bringing those specialised agencies together, helping them exchange views and experiences and strengthen international cooperation.

“UNODC has been a supporter of IAACA since its establishment and considers every opportunity to achieve those goals a worthy one,” he added in a statement to Malaysiakini yesterday.

“I commended the MACC for organising the conference and thanked it for its hospitality to all participants, including to me and other colleagues from UNODC or UNDP.”

‘Anti-corruption campaigners horrified’

The MP for Ipoh Timor, Lim Kit Siang, took Vlassis to task for the comments reported by the mainstream media, particularly the Oct 7 New Straits Times report, which Lim said had “horrified” anti-corruption campaigners in Malaysia.

Malaysiakini had sent Lim’s statement to Vlassis via the UNODC’s regional secretariat based in Bangkok, Thailand, on Oct 10, for his response.

Lim, who is DAP national adviser, said the comment by Vlassis was a “major blow” and undermined efforts to get Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s government to find the political will to fight corruption, especially those involving top political and public personalities.

Vlassis was also asked to justify his statement on MACC’s performance, since the Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had indicated Malaysia’s ranking and score for 2011 to be the lowest on record.

Lim had also slammed Vlassis for using the IAACA Conference to run down the credibility and usefulness of the TI CPI, by dismissing it as “outdated”, “counter-productive” and “does not serve anyone’s purpose”.

As a result of the comments, Lim added, Vlassis appeared to be sending the message to Malaysians that they do not have to be overly worried about Malaysia dropping to the worst 60th ranking with the lowest score of 4.3 in 17 years of TI’s corruption perception survey.

In response, Vlassis said he was asked about corruption in Malaysia and responded that he was not in a position to pass judgment on the matter because it was beyond his mandate and, therefore, inappropriate to evaluate a country’s performance.

No comment on review

He said Malaysia was being reviewed this year under the Implementation Review Mechanism of the UNCAC and the reviewers were the Philippines and Kenya.

The review was proceeding at a brisk pace, which was an indication of how seriously Malaysia was taking its participation in the mechanism.

“Then I said that I could not go into any further details, or comment on the results of the review, because I was bound by a duty of confidentiality imposed upon me…,” Vlassis said.

“In response to a question on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, I said that this was an important tool in raising awareness around the globe, lowering tolerance of corruption and keeping the issue high on the political and societal agendas,” he added.

“However, I expressed misgivings about its continued usefulness, in view of the fact that the complexity of corruption does not lend itself to efforts to reduce everything to a single figure and include it in an index.”

Vlassis said the Implementation Review Mechanism excluded the ranking of states as it has proved that such rankings may be counter-productive.

Countries, he added, should compare themselves only to themselves and not to others, as there were numerous nuances in the implementation of the convention.

He also said he did not have a meeting with Najib and merely shook the prime minister’s hand on the podium during the opening of the conference, where he spoke before Najib did.

“At the press conference, I said that in all anti-corruption efforts, in both the public and private sectors, the tone from the top was key and that Najib’s presence at the opening of the conference carried symbolic significance,” Vlassis added.

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  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 - 10:50 am

    Honestly I still stink Vlassis screwed up even in this explanation. ‘continued usefulness’ is the wrong term. It sounded like he meant to say there should be other things to be more useful other than the index.

    Clearly from his explanation, he think the index continue to be useful given his comment of self-comparison.

    He still messed up if you asked me..

  2. #2 by Cinapek on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 - 11:02 am

    First of all, this clarification is not likely to be published in any of the MSM, in particular NST which “mis”-reported the original press conference. Balance journalism is not the forte of the BN controlled MSMs. But then again, miracles has happened and maybe, just maybe, there exist an editor in one of the MSM who has the guts to publish this clarification without fear or favour.

    Vlassis commended MACC for organizing this IAACA conference and for the hospitality shown to the participants. As someone on the inside commented, our agencies are good at such event managements but short on the execution of their duties and responsibilities. All form and no substance. Or to put it more crudely and perhaps more aptly, all fart and no shit. Frankly, the rakyat would rather see them spending their time and resources to go after the corrupt instead of taking up to four years to investigate cases such as the UMNO/ Musa/Michael Chia RM40m scandal.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 - 11:04 am

    Yet another ‘misreporting’ or ‘misunderstanding’ of comments made by a personality that needs clarification and correction.

    Why is it that Malaysian reporters (especially) cannot report accurately and fairly? Are our journos so bad that they cannot understand what has been said and therefore cannot report accurately and in the proper context?

    Day in day out there are clarifications, whether on hindsight or otherwise, by persons who have been interviewed, made statements or held press conferences as to what they have actually said and meant. Maybe the reporters and their editors have to give it the right ‘spin’ in favour of the ruling party.

    Given the necessity for the many, many corrections and clarifications, the people’s trust and confidence in our journalists, photographers, news agencies and the media, has fast been eroded. Who can blame the general public if they see, hear and read the news with a lot of disbelief and skepticism ?

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 - 11:26 am

    Why spend so much to organise the 6th annual conference and general meeting of IAACA in Kuala Lumpur if cannot take advantage of its propaganda value by spin?

  5. #5 by monsterball on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 - 11:40 am

    Those are diplomats meeting…rubbing shoulders,,,similar to politicians with different styles…and the Conference always end up…all talks…no actions…like the G7 or G12.

  6. #6 by Winston on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 - 11:43 am

    Never ever believe a single alphabet of what is reported in the MSM which is controlled by the regime!
    Only believe in what is said in the MAM (Mainstream Alternative Media)!
    The scums will leave no stone unturned to fabricate all sorts of lies to make themselves look good.
    And the PR bad.
    Just remember one thing.
    When you vote, your vote will be for the PR!!!!

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 - 11:47 am

    Didn’t one senior editor recently in a forum titled ‘Social media: Managing the issues, addressing perceptions and emotions of the rakyat’ organised by Biro Tata Negara (BTN), and the 1Malaysia Social Media Convention secretariat advise his media audience that its ok as partof psychological warfare for media practitioners to spin the facts (as distinct from lie) to paint a “desired picture” to their reader/audience that the govt/ruling party/leaders are good, and the opposition, otherwise???

  8. #8 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Thursday, 18 October 2012 - 9:10 am

    Obama,

    Ahhh..

    Ah ah aaaa….

    …. what the ….

    wha …

    aaaa…

    aa…

    chooooooo…………..

    Ohhhh. So sorry. My apology. Sorry once again.

    Kutusan, next day,

    Headline: “Obama praised jibby hib for having done a great job admininstering the country.”

    “He commended the people for choooosing the best leader, Jib or better known as aaaaah jib, for the country.”

    “What the good choice.”

    … another round of public orgy by kutusan.

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