No way Malaysia can catapult to “top 10 or 12” of Transparency International CPI without catching any “big fishes” like what is happening in France, Indonesia, Philippines and China

Anti-Corruption agencies in France, China, Indonesia and Philippines created shock waves in their countries in the past 48 hours when they caught “big fishes” and took action against “grand corruption” in the past 48 hours.

In France, former president Nicolas Sarkozy has just been charged with corruption and influence peddling after being questioned for 15 hours, marking the first time a French ex-head of state had been taken into custody in a criminal investigation.

If convicted of those charges, he could face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

In the Philippines, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was suspended from Congress as Pampanga representative for 90 days pending her trial for graft over the award of US$329 million construction contract to Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE in the National Broadband Network (NBN) controversy when she was Filipino President in 2007.

In Indonesia, the Jakarta Corruption Court handed down a historic sentence on Monday evening by sentencing 53-year-old former Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar to life imprisonment, the most severe sentence in the court’s history.

The former Golkar Party politician was found guilty of accepting Rp 57 billion (US$4.7 million) in bribes from a number of regional heads to influence decisions on election disputes during his tenure at the court.

The life sentence for Akil marks the first time the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has successfully convinced the court to sentence a graft defendant facing graft or money-laundering charges to life in prison since its establishment in 2003.

In Beijing, China’s corruption crackdown snared the highest military official in more than six decades when the Chinese Communist Party Politburo meeting presided over by President Xi Jinping expelled Xu Caihou, a former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and a retired commander of the People’s Liberation Army. With the removal of Xu’s legal protections as a senior cadre, his case has been handed over to military prosecutors.

What has Malaysia anti-corruption campaign to show compared to these major anti-corruption developments in France, Philippines, Indonesia and China?

Absolutely nothing, as there is either complete silence from the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak on the outcome of his five-year anti-corruption campaign or just fanciful statements like the recent one by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner, Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed in his interview with The Edge that he aspires for Malaysia to be in the “top 10 or 12” of the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

As MACC has not caught a single “big fish” in Najib’s five-year premiership – apart from causing the still unresolved deaths of Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbaini at MACC premises – it boggles the imagination that Abu Kassim could even consider Malaysia to be ranked in “top 10 or 12” in TI CPI as compared to proactive anti-corruption campaigns in France, China, Indonesia and Philippines in their recent actions against “grand corruption”.

I am reminded of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s stand on the TI CPI. When TI CPI was first introduced in 1995, Malaysia was ranked No. 23 out of 41 countries. I can still remember the condemnation by Mahathir, who was Prime Minister at the time, who accused it as part of the Western "white men" conspiracy to demonise Asian countries as the global anti-corruption NGO was headquartered in Berlin.

However, in the months before he stepped down as Prime Minister in October 2003, Mahathir was singing a different tune, suggesting that Malaysia must compare its public behaviour with Finland, which came out as the world's least corrupt and most ethical country in the TI CPI for three consecutive years at that time.

Mahathir is on public record as saying that corruption in Malaysia today is worse than his 22 years as Prime Minister from 1981-2003.

The TI CPI annual series seem to vindicate Mahathir.

Malaysia’s latest TI CPI ranking has improved by one step, placed 53 out of 177 countries compared to 54th ranking in 2012, while the TI CPI score has improved to 50/100 compared to previous year’s 49/100.

However, the 19-year series of TI CPI annual rankings from 1995-2013 highlights a most shocking result, that Najib five-year premiership has always registered a lower TI CPI ranking when compared to the two previous Prime Ministers, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah.

This is illustrated by the following chart on TI CPI 1995-2013:

Prime Minister Best ranking Best score Worst ranking Worst score
Mahathir 23(1995) 5.32/10 (1996) 37 (2003) 4.8/10 (2000)
Abdullah 39(2004) 5.1/10 (2005/7/8) 47 (2008) 5/10 (2004/6)
Najib 53 (2013) 50/100 (2013) 60 (2011) 4.3/10 (2011)

Malaysia cannot expect any significant improvement in our TI CPI positions unless and until the Najib premiership gets serious in waging an all-out war against “grand corruption” and Malaysia’s counterparts of Sarkozy, Gloria Arroyo, Akil Mochtar and Xu Caihou are brought to the courts of justice.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah