Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 24th September 2008: 

Abdullah ultimate failure in the battle against corruption - Malaysia's worst ranking in 14 years of TI CPI at No. 47

It is another day of shame for Malaysia when the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2008 was unveiled, with the country placed at No. 47th position, its worst ranking in 14 years since the introduction of the annual TI CPI ranking in 1995.

It is also the ultimate failure of the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's campaign against corruption, which he promised to place at the very top of his agenda when he became the fifth Prime Minister five years ago –a campaign rich in paying lip service but doomed to failure as it lacked the political will to produce results.

It is most ironic and tragic that one man who will feel most vindicated by the TI CPI 2008 is former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

Abdullah had promised that his campaign against corruption will be one area which will distinguish the difference of his premiership from that of his predecessor. It was his promise to bring in a refreshing wind of change after 22 years of "cronyism, corruption and nepotism" (CCN) of Mahathir administration that created the unprecedented Barisan Nasional landslide electoral victory in the 2004 general election.

However, in just a year after the 2004 general election, Mahathir was able to adopt a "holier than thou" attitude towards the Abdullah premiership by publicly warning in May 2005 that corruption under Abdullah for a little over a year was even worse than under him for 22 years, that "corruption might be getting to a point of no return", becoming "a culture in Malaysia with corruption almost at the 'above the table' level" and "more and more people no longer trying to hide the fact that they were corrupt".

The TI CPI 2008 has proved Mahathir right in his adverse judgment on the Abdullah administration on its dismal performance in the battle against corruption.

What a sad and tragic end reminding one of the Shakespearean quote in Macbeth: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Malaysia's worst-ever ranking of No. 47 in the TI CPI 2008 is not just the ultimate failure of the Abdullah premiership in the campaign against corruption, it is also a national shame and infamy.

The National Integrity Plan promulgated in April 2004 announced the five-year target to emplace Malaysia at least No. 30 in the TI CPI by 2008. Instead, we plunged to the lowest ever at No. 47 position.

In the nine years from 1995 to to 2003, Mahathir presided over a 14-ranking fall in Malaysia's TI CPI from 23rd to 37th placing. Abdullah, in five years from 2003 to 2008, supervised a 10-ranking fall from 37th to 47th position.

We have not only continued to lose out to model nations in Asia in anti-corruption rankings like Singapore (No. 4 in 2008 TI CPI), Hong Kong (No. 12), Japan (No. 18), we are also losing out to more and more countries even in Africa, Middle East and Latin America, like Qatar (No. 28), United Arab Emirates (No.35), Botswana, Puerto Rico and Malta (No. 36), Taiwan (No. 39), South Korea (No. 40), Mauritius and Oman (No. 41), Macao and Bahrain (No. 43), Bhutan and Czech Republic (No. 45).

With such a dismal failure of the five-year plan target of the National Integrity Plan, the whole Cabinet should resign in shame and set a final salutary example of the culture of responsibility and resignation, the first prerequisite to any meaningful campaign against corruption.

But will the Ministers place the country's dismal showing in the TI CPI 2008 on top of the Cabinet agenda today with a clear-cut accounting to the nation as to the future of the National Integrity Plan and the war against corruption after the Cabinet meeting?

Or will the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers just sweep the dismal ranking of Malaysia in TI CPI 2008 under the carpet, keeping up the pretence that such a lengthening list of national infamy does not exist?

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor