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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Corruption Worsens In Malaysia

Found this article in mysinchew.com. Like most people, I've always felt disgusted, that the level of corruption in Malaysia has increased over the years. And yet, there is also a sense of "relief" at the same time, that someone has done a study from 1996 to 2006 to confirm that the level of corruption has indeed increased.

Whilst it is natural to hope that the government will face up to the truth, and do something about it, I am sure you are a lot more skeptical now that the present government is unlikely or never going to do something substantial that will arrest this deterioration. Do tell me I am wrong with your supporting reasons (smile).

Anyway, here's the article, with my usual highlighting. The link is here - http://www.mysinchew.com/node/12731


Corruption Worsens In Malaysia
2008-06-13 09:53

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has been deteriorating steadily over the past decade in its efforts to reduce corruption, according to a UN report and is a long way off from matching the standards set by Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, the top three Asian countries who are least corrupt.

Launching this year’s Asia Pacific Human Development Report published by the UN Development Programme in Kuala Lumpur Thursday (12 June), Transparency International (TI) Malaysia, Ramon V Navaratnam said, according to the International Country Risk Guide (ICRG), “Malaysia’s position has been deteriorating steadily over the last decade from 4.00 in 1996 to 2.38 in 2006.”

This compares with Singapore’s ranking which improved from 4.00 to 4.50 over the same period, making it the least corrupt Asian nation ahead of Hong Kong and Japan. However, both Hong Kong and Japan actually slipped in their anti-corruption ranking from 5.00 to 4.00 and Japan from 5.00 to 3.50 over the same period respectively.

(Seng comment: This is disgusting! In 1996, we were comparable to Singapore, both countries having the same ranking of 4.00. Ten years later, we slipped to 2.38, whereas Singapore advanced to 4.50! I shudder to think how we have "progressed" since 2006, as we are now in 2008! Is this an example of Malaysia Boleh?)

Malaysia is in ninth position out of 19 countries ranked by the ICRG index and just ahead of Indonesia, Mongolia and the Philippines but behind Brunei, South Korea, India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

However, it fared better in the other two indices used in the UNDP report. Malaysia is in sixth place out of 29 in the World Bank’s Control of Corruption Index in 2006. Malaysia is also ranked sixth out of 25 countries surveyed in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. But both the indices showed corruption in Malaysia has worsened over the past decade to 2006.

(Seng comment: So, we now have THREE (3) studies where they all point to the same conclusion, that corruption in Malaysia has worsened over the past decade!)

“A lower index may signal that bribery and rent-seeking behavior is still rampant in lower levels of the government,” he said.

Navaratnam, who is the former secretary general of the Finance Ministry and now group corporate adviser to the Sunway Group, pointed that in such cases, corruption often transpires in the form of negotiated tenders, bribes connected with import and export licences, exchange control, tax assessment, police protection or loan transactions.

(Seng comment: Negotiated tenders! Why aren't Malaysia moving to Open Tender System yet after all these years? Our country desperately need an Open Tender system. Penang's new Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng recently declared an Open Tender system for large state contracts, and this was met with a lot of hoo-haa from our Prime Minister. Is this a coincidence that our Corruption Index has worsened in the last decade?)

“This form of dishonesty extracts the highest price from the weakest in society as it diverts goods and services or benefits targeted for the poor to well-off and well connected households, who can afford to bribe officials,” he said.

He also said that these distortions undermine an efficient delivery system that is vital in reducing bottle-necks in the supply chain to improve the flow of goods and services.

Malaysia can do much better if there is stronger political will to fight corruption on all fronts. Given the rapid pace of globalization and increasing economic competition among Asian countries, it is time to ‘pull up our socks’”

(Seng comment: My immediate question is : Where is the source of the "stronger political will" that will end corruption. If you ask this question, then, I think the answer is rather obvious. There is simply no choice.)

He added that renewed commitment to the fight against corruption would unlock greater development gains, while helping to manager inflationary pressures against the backdrop of skyrocketing food and fuel prices.

Navaratnam also pointed out that among the most important considerations for Malaysia is the management of natural resources such as forestry, fisheries and minerals.

“If bribery and corruption provisions are too broad in the management of natural resources, laws and policies can be manipulated to the will of big businesses and not for the benefit of the people,” he said.

“State-colluded degradation of the environment and illegal land expropriations can drive small scale farmers and indigenous communities into abject poverty, further hampering efforts to improve the livelihood of these groups,” he added.

He said according to TI’s Bribe Payers Index, companies from China, India, Russia, Taiwan and Malaysia involved in the extractive industries frequently pay high levels of bribes when conducting business overseas – often when their own natural resources have been exhausted.

(By BOB TEOH/MySinchew)
MySinchew 2008.06.13

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