Friday, 13 June 2008

CORRUPTION in Malaysia at CRITICAL Stage, Report Says

Read here in and HERE

In 1996, Malaysia's corruption score was 4.00, based on the International Country Risk Guide (ICRG) index.

A decade later, in 2006, Malaysia scored only 2.36 on the same ICRG index.

(NOTE: A LOWER score represents GREATER corruption).

Based on above ICRG index ranking,Malaysia is in ninth (9th) position out of 19 countries , just AHEAD of Indonesia, Mongolia and the Philippines but BEHIND Brunei, South Korea, India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

On the other hand, SINGAPORE’s ranking IMPROVED from 4.00 to 4.50 over the same period, making it the LEAST corrupt Asian nation ahead of Hong Kong and Japan.

Malaysia 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.

(Note: Based on the World Bank’s Control of Corruption Index Malaysia is in sixth (6th) place out of 29 in 2006.

Malaysia is also ranked sixth (6th) out of 25 countries surveyed in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.

Both the indices also showed corruption in Malaysia has worsened over the past decade to 2006.)

According to Transparency International, corruption in Malaysia has reached a CRITICAL level, warning the government to act or lose its competitiveness.

Ramon Navaratnam, country head of graft watchdog Transparency International(Malaysia Chapter) , said,

"A LOWER index may signal that bribery and rent-seeking behavior is still rampant in lower levels of the government.

It is worrying because it is a BUSINESS index which reflects on our domestic investment, foreign direct investment and confidence in the economy.

Corruption is at a critical level here. Our economic structure, the way we do business here, needs to be reviewed, renewed and redesigned.

Malaysia can do much better if there is stronger political will to fight corruption.

Given the rapid pace of globalisation and increasing economic competition among Asian countries, it's time to pull our socks up.

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.

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.

Navaratnam warned that Malaysia could lose its competitive edge if it remained 'complacent and inefficient.'

He said corruption in Malaysia was deeply entrenched in the negotiation of contracts. Bribes were paid to government officials to speed up trade licences, for police protection and for loan transactions.

According to Transparency International’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

Navaratnam pointed that 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.

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.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was elected on an anti-corruption platform in March 2004, but opposition leaders say progress has been slow.

Following his government's recent drubbing in national polls he announced several measures to tackle corruption and reform what many view as a compliant judiciary.

A royal commission recently authenticated a tape showing a top lawyer brokering judicial appointments with the help of politicians during the premiership of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Earlier this week, a senior judge said judges were indoctrinated and threatened with dismissal to pressure them into making pro-government decisions during the former premier's rule.

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