Thursday, July 11, 2013

Najib Losing the Fight Against Corruption

Malaysia’s drastic decline in Transparency International’s Corruption Barometer exposes the bare-bones underneath the razzmatazz of the “Fighting Corruption” NKRA.

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has staked his premiership on 6 National Key Result Areas (NKRA), of which “Reducing Corruption” was one of the most important, if not the most.  Over the past four years, the Prime Minister and his team has razzled and dazzled Malaysians and foreigners over the “efforts” and “successes” in achieving the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the NKRA.

In 2011, Pemandu had boasted that the initiatives taken have shown tremendous results in eradicating the crime of corruption. The Government also pointed out that “the effectiveness of the actions taken is being slowly felt and acknowledged by the general public”.

Pemandu had cited that according to the Transparency International (TI-M) Global Corruption Barometer Survey (GCB), corruption rate in Malaysia has slightly increased from 48% in 2010 to 49% in 2011, proving the improvements.  In fact, the Reducing Corruption NKRA director Datuk Hisham Nordin told Bernama in April, that the NKRA has exceeded the target of the KPI set to fight corruption in the country.

However, in the latest GCB report, the people's perception of the government's effectiveness in combatting corruption has plunged significantly from 49% previously in 2011 to a shocking low of 31%.  This is a far cry from the official objective of the NKRA to raise Malaysia’s GCB to 70% by 2015.  The last time the perception of effectiveness of the government in this area was this low was in 2009, at 28% when the Prime Minister first launched the NKRAs with much fanfare.

According to the survey, only a miserable 14% of respondents thought that corruption in the last two years had decreased, 39% thought that it had increased and 47% thought that it remained unchanged.

The survey indicates that Malaysians are perhaps seeing through all the razzmatazz, the song and dance and the gorgeous packaging for the NKRA after more than 3 years, discovering that nothing much has really changed.  Very little effort is placed in punishing the corrupt among the rich, powerful and politically-connected, while every effort is made to thwart whistleblowing and exposes by opposition politicians and civic-minded individuals.

What rubs salt to wound is the fact that the annual budget allocations to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) before and after 2009 respectively have increased by leaps and bounds over the past decade.  In 2003 when we were best placed over the decade in the TI Corruption Perception Index (CPI) at number 33 in the world, the budget for ACA was RM67.7 million.

In 2008 before Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi handed over the reigns to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, we were then ranked 47th in the world with a budget of RM146.7 million.  In 2012, after the “massive” MACC reforms, the “Reducing Corruption” NKRA and an increased budget of RM211.2 million, we are now ranked a lowly 56th in the world.

It would appear that the bigger the budget and more staffing and resources given to MACC, the more corrupt Malaysia has become.

If Datuk Seri Najib Razak is serious about fighting and reducing corruption, then his administration must certainly get their act together with the necessary political will to slaughter all sacred cows. It is time to do away with the razzmatazz and multitude of self-praise and excuses for the lack of action, to ensure that those guilty of corruption, particularly of grand corruption are punished accordingly. Frivolous and sorry remarks by the Prime Minister’s new recruit, the former TI-M President, Datuk Paul Low like “political stunts had led to numerous baseless graft complaints being filed [which] had in turn caused the low rate of probes by MACC” isn’t helpful at all to the cause against corruption.
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