The day-and-night difference in anti-corruption efforts between Malaysia and Indonesia raises red flag that it is a matter of time before Malaysia will lag behind Indonesia as a country in fighting corruption

The past month has continued to provide mounting evidence of the day-and-night difference in anti-corruption efforts between Malaysia and Indonesia, which should raise the red flag that it is a matter of time before Malaysia will be regarded internationally as lagging behind Indonesia in fighting corruption.

This is best illustrated by the contrasting headlines on anti-corruption in the two countries in the past month.

For instance, one of the most electrifying news on the anti-corruption front in Malaysia was the headline last month: “8 officers face 28 fresh charges in Customs bribery case” but this paled into insignificance when compared with the following headline on the fight against corruption in Indonesia a week earlier: “Ex-leader of Indonesia's ruling party gets 8 years in jail for corruption, money laundering”

But what gives the feeling of the night-and-day difference in anti-corruption efforts between the two countries are the headlines in Indonesian newspapers on Wednesday like “Jokowi to replace eight prospective ministerial candidates following KPK`s recommendation”, following the KPK (Corruption Eradication Commission)'s recommendation that the eight prospective Cabinet Ministers are “high risk” of being named graft suspects, and those yesterday like “Indonesia president submits new cabinet list” to KPK and “Eight new ministerial candidates still under KPK consideration: Jokowi”.

The gloom felt by Malaysians at the puny anti-corruption efforts are not relieved when they are inundated with disastrous, ambivalent or downright inane news headlines like “Malaysia one of the most corrupt nations, survey shows” (Sept. 27), “No plan to boost law to probe into ‘high-living’ civil servants” (Oct.8) and “Top cop looks to ordinary Malaysians to keep police in check” (Oct. 23)q.

Can the Prime Minister or even the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) explain why Malaysia is losing out so badly to Indonesia in anti-corruption efforts and results, with not a single “big fish” landed in Malaysia so far whether under the present Prime Minister or the two previous Prime Ministers, covering 33 years since 1981 when the catching, prosecution and jailing of “big fishes” have become quite commonplace in Indonesia?

This deplorable trend in the anti-corruption efforts of Malaysia and Indonesia is well documented by the annual Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) since 1995.

In the first TI CPI in 1995, Malaysia was ranked No. 23 out of 41 countries with a middling CPI score of 5.28.

Nineteen years later, after numerous anti-corruption campaigns, two major anti-corruption legislation, the “elevation” of the former Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) into Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the National Integrity Plan, the 1Malaysia Government Transformation Programme with massive infusion of public funds and increase of staffing, Malaysia has now fallen in the TI CPI 2013 to No. 53 out of 177 countries, with CPI score of 50/100 – a ranking lower than ever recorded under the two previous Prime Ministers, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah.

In comparison, Indonesia was ranked at the very bottom of No. 41 in 1995 with CPI score of 1.94. Now Indonesia is ranked No. 114 with a progressive rise CPI score to 32/100 in 2013.

At the annual average rate of Indonesia's improvement on TI CPI ranking and score in the past five years, with Malaysia struggling to remain in the middling CPI score, Malaysia will be left behind by Indonesia in less than a decade, even well before 2020.

Is there a strategy by Najib and MACC to avert this disaster?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah