Malaysia No. 9 ranking in perceived judicial corruption – so groundless/untrue that judiciary/govt. dare not claim credit

Since last Friday, I had been baffled and mystified by news reports that Malaysia is ranked ninth out of 62 countries in a global survey by Transparency International (TI) on perceived judicial corruption — which is so groundless and untrue that the judiciary and government are too embarrassed to come forward to claim credit.

At the launching of the TI Global Corruption Report 2007 on “Corruption in Judicial Systems” marked by a panel discussion participated by the Bar Council and the Malaysia Integrity Institute, Transparency International Malaysia President Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said he was “pleasantly surprised” with the TI survey on perceived judicial corruption for Malaysia.

If it is true that Malaysia is ranked as the ninth least corrupt nation in the world in perceived judicial corruption, then it is a fantastic feather in the cap on the occasion of Malaysia’s 50th Merdeka Anniversary celebrations and should be trumpeted all over the country and the world as Malaysians have the right to take pride at such an achievement.

But mystery of mysteries, there had been total silence from the judiciary and the government on the claim that Malaysia is ranked No. 9 among the world’s cleanest judiciary in the whole of the past week — when the government had never been shy in exploiting such good news to the hilt.

For instance, when Malaysia’s world competitiveness ranking improved by five places and was ranked 16th as compared to 21st position in 2003 in the Swiss-based International Institute of Management Development (IMD) World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) 2004, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi immediately quoted it as authority in his keynote address at the Malaysia-China Business Dialogue in Beijing on 28th May 2004 during his first official visit to China as premier as testimonial why Malaysia was a good place to do business.

However, when Malaysia’s world competitiveness ranking plunged 12 places from 16th to 28th position in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2005 in May 2005, it was met with a six-month stony silence by Ministers and government leaders as if the report never existed.
Why is the judiciary and government behaving so strangely as if they are more embarrassed than elated by the TI’s global survey reportedly placing Malaysia in the world’s top 10 countries on judicial integrity and honesty.

Could it be that the judiciary and government do not believe it themselves and are too shy to claim credit for what they know is patently groundless and untrue?

The first question that baffled me was how could Malaysia be ranked No. 9 in perceived judicial corruption in the world when it is ranked No. 44 in the 2006 TI Corruption Perception Index 2006, having dropped seven places since 2003 when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as Prime Minister when Malaysia was ranked No. 37.

Is it credible that Malaysia could be ranked much higher in perceived judicial corruption than the top 20 countries in the TI 2006 Corruption Perception Index as the world’s least corrupt nations, such as the following:

2006 TI CPI ranking – Perceived judicial corruption
Malaysia 44 – 9
Iceland 1 – 10
Hong Kong 15 – 11
Austria 11 – 13
Netherlands 9 – 14
France 18 – 15
Japan 17 – 16
Canada 14 – 18
UK 11 – 21

If Malaysia’s TI CPI 2006 is ranked No. 44, and yet its perceived judicial corruption is ranked No. 9, does this mean that the rest of the public service could be ranked No. 70 or 80 to make the necessary adjustments?

Secondly, if nobody in Malaysia believes that the country’s judiciary could be ranked No. 9 in the world for integrity and incorruptibility, why then the No. 9 ranking by the TI Global Corruption Report on Judicial Corruption, when TI had been well-regarded internationally for its credibility and authority in the global fight against corruption?

Or has TI stumbled this time and fallen far short of the high standards it had set itself for more than a decade?

I have just the opportunity today to browse through the TI Global Corruption Report (GCR) and I think there are two reasons for this major disconnect between TI’s international credibility and the GCR finding on perceived judicial corruption in Malaysia.

Firstly, the GCR never claimed to issue a global ranking of perceived judicial corruption like the annual ranking of corruption perception index (CPI) of nations.
What is issued was a table on “Percentage of respondents who described their judicial/legal system as corrupt”.

This has been mistakenly interpreted as a global ranking of perceived judicial corruption with Malaysia ranked as No. 9 among the least-corrupt judicial systems — which is utter bunkum.

Although from the survey of some 2,000 respondents in Malaysia, the country is the ninth country with the lowest percentage of respondents who described the judiciary as corrupt (less than 20 per cent), this does not mean that the Malaysian judiciary is the world’s ninth least corrupt system.

Secondly, the finding that less than 20 per cent of the respondents surveyed in Malaysia are of the view that the judiciary is corrupt is open to serious challenge, for clearly, the respondents have not fully understood what TI understood as “judicial corruption”.

A close reading of the TI GCR will show that TI GCR definition of “judicial corruption” is not confined to judges receiving bribes, but is very wide as it “takes many forms and is influenced by many factors, whether legal, social, cultural, economic or political”.

For instance, judicial corruption “includes any inappropriate influence on the impartiality of the judicial process by any actor within the court system”. TI GCR recognizes that “Other parts of the justice system may influence judicial corruption”, such as:

  • “Criminal cases can be corrupted before they reach the courts if police tamper with evidence that supports a criminal indictment, or prosecutors fail to apply uniform criteria to evidence generated by the police. In countries where the prosecution has a monopoly on bringing prosecution before the courts, a corrupt prosecutor can effectively block off any avenue for legal redress.”
  • “Despite several decades of reform efforts and international instruments protecting judicial independence, judges and court personnel around the world continue to face pressure to rule in favour of powerful political or economic entities, rather than according to the law.”

The record of Malaysia’s system of justice in the past two decades is of a judiciary under continuous crisis of confidence since the sacking of Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court judges in 1988 right down to the catalogue of miscarriage of injustices which were the subject of an indictment of the international judicial and legal community in 2000, in a report entitled: “Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000”.

There was a long list of the victims of such miscarriage of injustices in the past two decades including Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng, Karpal Singh, Zainur Zakaria, Param Cumaraswamy, Tommy Thomas and Irene Fernandez.

Till today, the national and international confidence enjoyed by the judiciary d in the first three decades of nationhood have not been fully restored.

In the circumstances, if the 2,000 Malaysian respondents surveyed by the TI GCR had been properly briefed as to the meaning of “judicial corruption” in the survey, there is no way that only less than 20 per cent of the respondents would have described the Malaysian judiciary as corrupt.

I would call on the four panelists at the launching of the TI GCR last week, i.e. Ramon Naravatnam of TI Malaysia, Malaysia Integrity Institute president Datuk Dr. Mohd Tap Salleh,, Bar Council chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan and the Bar Council human rights committee deputy chairman Andrew Khoo to individually declare whether they agree with media reports that Malaysia is ranked No. 9 among the world’s least corrupt judicial system so that such misimpression is not allowed to persist for another day.

This is because such a misimpression is a great disservice to the cause to uphold integrity and to fight corruption.

(Speech at the DAP public forum “Civil Service Excellence –Quality vs Quantity” at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 30th May 2007 at 9 pm)

  1. #1 by smeagroo on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 12:51 pm

    Maybe the survey was done via SMS and one can SMS as many times as one wishes therefore propelling Msia to no.9 spot. So eventhough we achieved no.9 there is no glory or anything to be proud of.

  2. #2 by Jimm on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 1:04 pm

    Something to be proud of. Malaysia BOLEH.
    Judicial Corruption is because all those major cases are still on going or lost of evidence by prosecutor team. We have to know that the best way to beat the law is to go around it. After all, everyone is on the same side..
    Big cases cannot be accountable for as it’s still under investigation. All those minor cases were dealt with the right sentences and fines.
    Now, we should invites all the countries that are currently below our ranking to visit us for a seminar on how to keep the record keep and earn a higher ranking in the eyes of the world ….
    Malaysia Boleh.

  3. #3 by izrafeil on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 1:32 pm

    Yes, I am still waiting the announced 18 “big fish” corruption cases, what really happen to these, I know that PM did mentioned these cases take a long time to process/persecute, but why are the media so silence on these cases!

  4. #4 by i_love_malaysia on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 1:52 pm

    It is only based on perceptions only, it very much depends on who are the ones who filled up the TI survey forms. May be those who supposed to fill up the survey forms just passed the forms to the clerks to fill up. After all they dont believe that much will be done to improve our ranking whether we are in no. 44 or 62 (very good e.g. is our universities ranking in the world!!), so why bother to fill up the forms themselves, just delegate it to the clerks to fill up lah!!! so instead of choosing 10 for most corrupt, the clerks filled up with 1 marks for least corrupt!! why? because all wanted to be NO. 1 mah!!!
    Why gov or judiciary dare not claim credit? I think it is because they are aiming for no. 1, but too bad that it is no. 9, so it still fall short of the target!! so who dare to claim credit!!! we are aiming for terbilang OK!!!

  5. #5 by HJ Angus on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 2:25 pm

    With all the “bocor” in the palaces of justice, everyone in the justice department prefers to lie low.

    Maybe also the Lina Joy case verdict.

  6. #6 by k1980 on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 2:32 pm

    Why senators in Malaysia are pro-government appointees

    …the Senate could be a thorn in Arroyo’s side. Senators opposed to her could block administration bills or, at the very least, make their passage difficult, as was done in the past Congress. ”It would also be interesting to see how the opposition-dominated Senate will work with the administration-dominated House”…

  7. #7 by Bobster on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 3:24 pm

    Malaysia in the world’s top 10 countries on judicial integrity and honesty with Datuk Z escaping jail term and heavy fines after all the evidence on corruption and power abuse??!!

    Experiencing major defects in the world 2nd largest courthouse, clear evidence of negligence and corruption and yet no heads roll except main contractor absorbs the repair cost and covers up the misdeed!!

    Yea, all Malaysians know TI 2007 Corruption in Judicial Systems Report is utterly absurd and can be thrown out of the window!

  8. #8 by pwcheng on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 3:28 pm

    Anybody who is following the political happenings in this country will know that the Judiciary is manipulated by politicians in most of the high level cases. Of course petty thefts and small corruption cases are not in the politicians lists.

    From precedents we know that there are many high profile cases that are manipulated to suit the politicians taste buds. When a high court judge can openly expose ” grafts in the judiciary” and no action being taken to pursue the exposure, is a clear testimony to the deep set evil of corruption in the whole government machinery, from top politicians to the judiciary and to the civil servants. It is a nest of corrupted worms nestling together and nudging closely for each others warmth.

  9. #9 by i_love_malaysia on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 3:58 pm

    Correction!!! the marks given by the clerks are not 1 mark for least corrupt, if the mark is 1 mark, Malaysia would be no. 1 and not no. 9. The marks given are 4 marks i.e. Empat, senang dapat!! that’s why we are at no. 9. May be next year, all the clerks can help to give 1 mark, so that we will be no. 1 in the world!!!

  10. #10 by Winston on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 4:00 pm

    Uncle Lim, who are the respondents?
    Many, if not most could well be from the BN.
    The next question is: How does one become a respondent?
    I would very much like to be one!

  11. #11 by Taikor on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 4:08 pm

    The report says it’s a GLOBAL SURVEY. That is what other people thinks of this country’s judicial system. So, the proposition that it could be influenced by BN members is out.

  12. #12 by Jonny on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 6:30 pm

    they can buy over ijok and machap. they can buy over the survey. but i don’t think they have all the resources to buy over the heart of malaysians in the coming general election.

    they must be kidding themselves and sweating hard now …

  13. #13 by ihavesomethingtosay on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 7:07 pm

    Inmy view, there can only be one poosible explanation to “Malaysia No. 9 ranking in perceived judicial corruption……….”

    And the explanation is this………….. typing error.


  14. #14 by akarmalaysian on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 7:28 pm

    who are those idiots in the government trying to kid?as we knw these people hv no shame in making malaysia famous for the wrong reasons.thrs no one leader that can really stand out and really make every malaysian proud in this country.

  15. #15 by negarawan on Thursday, 31 May 2007 - 9:25 pm

    As per Dr Chandra Muzaffar, Islam does not bar anyone from leaving the religion. The phenomenon we are seeing in Malaysia is not a problem created by Islam, but a political problem created by UMNO. As Mahathir himself said, Muslims can leave the religion but they will have to forsake their Bumiputra status and rights. That is fine as long as the individual has the right and freedom to choose what he believes in. The next time Badawi gives a speech on religious freedom in Malaysia and all the hype on Islam Hadari, he should be pelted with rotten eggs and tomatoes! He’s the biggest hypocrite and liar in Malaysia! Islam Hadari is repressive, cruel, corrupt and retrogressive. Those Islamic detention centers in Malaysia, where the government incarcerates and torture Muslims who want to convert out of Islam, must be stopped. Let the whole world know that Malaysia does not practise religious freedom and basic human rights. Let the whole world know of the UMNO’s cruelty and crimes againt humanity. May Allah punish those who twist and turn his Holy Word for their own personal and political gains.

  16. #16 by greenacre on Friday, 1 June 2007 - 1:21 am

    I do not know about judicial independence in Malaysia but I do know the following i.e an advocate filed an affidavit which was false in material particulars more so when this affidavit was his very own. The litigant brings it to notice of this judge in his chambers and backs it up with a sworn affidavit. Well the judge just disregarded the whole thing. As far as I know it is serious thing for an advocate to do so. But this advocate was smiling all the time. If pursued further one would become old fast. So I rest for now.

  17. #17 by raven77 on Friday, 1 June 2007 - 6:42 am

    Will Malaysians ever stand up….

  18. #18 by Count Dracula on Saturday, 2 June 2007 - 9:39 pm

    If it is true that Malaysia is ranked as the ninth least corrupt nation in the world in perceived judicial corruption, then it is a fantastic feather in the cap on the occasion of Malaysia’s 50th Merdeka Anniversary celebrations and should be trumpeted all over the country and the world as Malaysians have the right to take pride at such an achievement. Ah Kit

    Yes, I am now looking for my old trumpet somewhere in the attic of my house stored for years since I left school to trumpet the country’s achievement at being in the 19th position.

    It is based on a random(?) survey of people. Nothing is known about their profile.

    So DAP, we can think for ourselves. We do not need the DAP to help us think. Thanks anyway.

  19. #19 by BoDo Singh on Sunday, 3 June 2007 - 7:35 am

    DAp like BN wants to see what it wants to see – and buries its head in the sand to everything else.

  20. #20 by bhuvan.govindasamy on Monday, 4 June 2007 - 12:51 pm

    I read this artcle with some interest. Ramon Navaratnam said “he was pleasantly surprised”??????


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