Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Malaysia's TI Corruptiion Perception Index Dips to Record Low

With absolutely nothing to show after more than 15 months after announcing the KPI for the Corruption NKRA, its time for Najib to exercise his promise to wield his whip

In the latest Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) calculations, Malaysia’s corruption index score declined to its record lowest levels from 4.5 last year to 4.4 out of 10. At the same time, Malaysia’s ranking still remains the same as last year, at 56 out of 178 countries, the worst in our history after falling from 47th in 2008 and our recent best of 33rd in 2002. This puts us on par with countries like Namibia and Turkey.

What is perhaps most scathing was the remarks in the report where TI believes that the Najib Administration still lacks the political will to stem out corruption and stressed that steps must be taken to tackle problems with implementation.

This is despite the fact that Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak has made the fight against Corruption one of the 6 key “National Key Result Areas” (NKRAs) of his administration. More than 15 months ago, he appointed Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz as the “lead minister” for the Corruption NKRA who will be in-charge to ensure the achievement of the set “key performance indicators” (KPI), with the Prime Minister himself assuming the overall reponsibility for the NKRA objectives and attainment of the KPIs.

The Prime Minister promised that he “will be personally and directly involved in reviewing the performance of all the ministers every six months... Should any performance not meet the standard, I, the relevant minister and public officials concerned will remove any obstacle that is impeding their performance.”

The TI CPI is one of the key KPIs of the Corruption NKRA and it is now shown clearly that Najib has failed to instil confidence that his administration is serious against corruption, and has failed to take concrete actions to the damage over the past decade.

The Najib administration has failed to a large extent due to its lack of willingness to prosecute the “big fishes” involved mega-scandals such as the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal, where despite the hype which was created where more than a handful of “big names” were expected to be charged following the arrest of Tun Ling Liong Sik in July this year, no one else has been hauled up.

What's more, the administrations unwillingness to fully endorse the recommendations by the “Government Transformation Programme” (GTP) for the Corruption NKRA has exposed the hollowness of Najib's attempted fight against corruption.

For example, the call by the GTP to ban “letters of support” for procurement contracts have been resisted by none other than the Minister in-charge of the Corruption NKRA himself, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz. There's the half-hearted implementation of the emphasis on open, competitive and transparent tenders for government projects with Najib himself openly reserving some of the largest Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) projects for selected private consortiums such as the MRT for Gamuda-MMC, and the high-speed rail link for YTL.

In addition, the half-hearted attempt at publishing incomplete and sometimes inaccurate data on the MyProcurement Portal only shows up the lack of commitment by the various Ministries to take up the call for transparency and the fight against corruption. For example, despite having a procurement budget of nearly RM3 billion, only 8 contracts worth RM15.3 million have been published. And worse, these contracts have been published since April with the portal was launched, there has been no additional updates since!

It is time for Najib to wield his whip to ensure that the NKRA for Corruption will not become his first and biggest failure in his 18-month administration to date. Without the necessary political will in fighting corruption, there will be little confidence in similar political will to execute all the other necessary reforms to ensure that all the other NKRAs, NEM and ETP goals will be met.
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