Under the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s “Government Transformation Programme” (GTP), the “Fighting Corruption” National Key Result Area (NKRA) has been proclaimed as “a key focus of the GTP” as “it could stand in the way of the country attaining its ambition of being a high-income nation” because:
“Corruption erodes public confidence in the ability of the Government and other key institutions in maintaining a fair playing field for all participants, and could dissuade private investment.”
“Corruption discourages greater participation in the national economy, and therefore has an adverse effect on Malaysia’s talent pool. There is also a growing concern that corruption is siphoning resources away from the economy, with reports noting that small enterprises were paying between 8% and 9% of their revenue base to pay bribes for licenses and permits.”
By government’s own estimates in January 2010, corruption could cost Malaysia as much as RM10 billion a year or 1-2% of GDP.
But what has Najib to show in his “Fighting Corruption” NKRA after more than three years as Prime Minister?
Najib had aimed to achieve a ranking of between 30 to 35 for Malaysia in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI), but instead of improving, there had been an unchecked dive in both Malaysia’s ranking and score in the TI CPI for 2010 and 2011.
Malaysia was ranked No. 23 with a score of 5.28 in 1995 TI CPI. When Tun Mahathir stepped down as Prime Minister in 2003, Malaysia’s TI CPI for 2003 had plunged to 37th placing with a score of 5.2.
Under the fifth Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah, an ambitious five-year National Integrity Plan (2004-2008) was launched for Malaysia to improve its TI CPI ranking to at least 30th position in 2008, and the score of 5.2 for Malaysia in 2003 to reach at least 6.5 by 2008. (10 being the best and 1.0 the worst).
Malaysia failed to achieve the National Integrity Plan targets of at least 30th position and a score of 6.5 in 2008, as both criteria worsened with Malaysia being ranked No. 47 with a score of 5.1.
In 2009, Malaysia registered the worst drop in both ranking and score, descending to No. 56th ranking with a score of 4.5.
Although Najib’s GTP and “Fighting Corruption” NKRA targeted Malaysia to achieve an improvement of the score from 4.5 to 4.9 in 2010, the score worsened to 4.4 with the ranking remaining at No. 56.
This drop continued in the 2011 TI CPI with Malaysia falling to the worst ranking of No. 60 and lowest-ever score of 4.3.
The TI CPI 2012 results are expected in a month’s time, and from all indications, Malaysia is likely to suffer from a further fall in both TI CPI ranking and score if the various scandals in the past year are taken into account – including the RM250 million “cow-condo” scandal, the RM40 million Michael Chia “donation to Sabah Umno” scandal, the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) expose of US$21 billion assets of Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud’s family with the wealth of Taib himself put at a whopping US$15 billion etc.
From the history of TI CPIs, Malaysia under Najib is not only more corrupt than under the previous Prime Ministers, whether Tun Mahathir or Tun Abdullah, Malaysia is also losing out to other countries, whether in ASEAN, the Asia-Pacific or even among OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) countries, in the battle against corruption.
A decade ago, Malaysian leaders pride themselves as leading the most technologically advanced and most industrially developed country in the OIC countries, towering head and shoulders over other countries in the OIC on the rule of law, accountability, transparency and integrity.
In 1996, Malaysia was ranked No. 26 out of 54 countries with a score of 5.32 – ahead of Jordan (No. 30 – score 4.89), Turkey (No. 33 – 3.54) and Egypt (No. 41 – 2.84).
Sixteen years later, in the 2011 TI CPI, Malaysia crashed to 60th placing with the lowest-ever score of 4.3 – losing out to six OIC countries and only one step ahead of Turkey, as illustrated as follows:
Qatar – No. 22 (rank) 7.2 (score)
UAE – 28 (6.8)
Bahrain- 46 (5.1)
Oman – 50 (4.8)
Kuwait – 54 (4.6)
Jordan – 56 (4.5)
Saudi Arabia – 57 (4.4)
Malaysia – 60 (4.3)
Turkey – 61 (4.2)
The AES (Automatic Enforcement System) to make unusual and extraordinary wealth an automatic corruption offence appears to be the only way to salvage Najib’s GTP and “Fighting Corruption” NKRA and halt the descent of Malaysia down the TI CPI ranking and score.
But has Najib and his Cabinet the political will and commitment to really fight corruption by introducing and implementing AES to make unusual and extraordinary wealth a prima facie offence of corruption unless this presumption could be overturned in a corruption trial?