M’sia eyes better position in graft index

Dr M’s govt has been hard at work purging Malaysia from its past malpractices

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The new government’s pursuit to weed out corruption and probe dealings linked to the previous administration might have earned Malaysia top marks in the eyes of anti-corruption watchdogs.

Since winning the historic May 9 election, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Pakatan Harapan administration has been hard at work in purging the country from its past malpractices.

This includes charges against former leaders over the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal, changes in judicial appointments and a sweeping overhaul in state-owned entities.

Centre for Public Policy Studies research analyst Lim Pau Hua said charges to previous leaders are a manifestation of Malaysia’s effort in initiating the process of transitional justice, which is an important step to rehabilitate the rule of law.

“Combating corruption will give a clear message to foreign investors that Malaysia is heading to a more transparent administration.

“This indicates less uncertainty and higher stability of our political system. It will allow investors to assume a position of power through ability, rather than patronage,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

Lim said with the implementation of more anti-corruption measures, Malaysia could achieve a higher score of at least 80 out of 100 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.

“I see this as a five-year plan. More institutional reforms have to be done. The Institutional Reforms Committee has submitted their final report to the government, but very few of those measures have been adopted so far.

“The government has to treat the report more seriously and inform the public on what has been suggested,” he said.

Malaysia has typically ranked in mid-table of the corruption index, with its highest score at 53.2 points in 1996. Currently, Malaysia’s score of 47 points puts the nation in 62nd place out of 180 countries.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs CEO Ali Salman said while the government’s current drive to identify and prosecute corrupt practices is good news for investments, it is likely to challenge the entrenched interests of different players accustomed with opaque decision-making — which will lead to uncertainty in the short run.

“A successful anti-corruption campaign will not only help the country improve its perception, but more importantly, improve its long-term economic prospects by widening the scope and opportunities for businesses dealing with government procurement and regulations,” he said.