Will Najib be Mahathir’s sixth scalp or is Malaysia hauling the first “tiger” or “crocodile” to court and prison in the country’s anti-corruption campaign?

The country’s politics is abuzz with extraordinary news recently, raising the question whether the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia will be the sixth scalp of the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia or whether the country is hauling the first “tiger” or “crocodile” to court and prison in Malaysia’s anti-corruption campaign.

In the past 45 years, the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had collected five scalps of top political leaders in the country, starting with Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, two Deputy Prime Ministers who might have gone on to become Prime Ministers, Tun Musa Hitam and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the fifth Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and the eternal Prime Minister-aspirant Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

The question now is whether Mahathir will add the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to his collection of six top political scalps in Malaysia.

But Najib is evidently not taking the possibility of his “political scalping” by Mahathir lying down, and the question has arisen whether the first “tiger” or “crocodile” will be hauled to court and prison in the history of Malaysia’s lack-lustre anti-corruption campaign.

Recently, the Najib administration and its publicity machinery trumpetted Malaysia’s anti-corruption “achievements”, even falsely claiming that Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Indeex (CPI) 2014 is “the country’s best in 10 years”.

This is of course untrue.

The TI CPI 2014 is the country’s best in six years under Najib’s premiership, but the worst compared to Tun Abdullah’s premiership with TI CPI from 2004 to 2008 ranging from 39th to 47th ranking and even worse in the nine years of Mahathir’s premiership from 1995 – 2003, ranking from 23rd placing in 1995 to No. 37th placing in 2003.

Studying the TI CPI 2014 ranking and score for the 175 countries and the 20-year series of TI CPI from 1995-2014, there is no reason or ground for anyone to believe that the target of Malaysia being ranked in the top 30 of TI CPI in 2020 is a realistic or achievable one.

In fact, come 2020, Malaysia faces the risk of being overtaken by China and even Indonesia in both in TI CPI ranking and score, when in the first TI CPI in 1995, Malaysia was ranked No. 23 out of 41 countries with a score of 5.28 out of 10, while China and Indonesia were ranked as the last two bottom countries with CPI score of 2.16 and 1.94 out of 10 respectively (i.e. hovering in the lowest 90 percentile of the CPI score).

However, in the last 20 years, Malaysia achieved the dubious distinction as one of the few countries which had been downgraded both in TI CPI ranking and score, and losing out to countries which had lower CPI ranking and score in 1995 as well as now at risk of being overtaken by countries including China and Indonesia which had been at the bottom of TI CPI in 1995.

In Indonesia, the new President Joko Widodo is personally leading the campaign against corruption while in China, though it had dropped four points in the TI CPI score last year, its corruption campaign against “tigers and flies” have seen a tremendous improvement in China’s TI CPI score in the past two decades.

Corruption arrests and prosecutions against tigers and crocodiles, whether ministerial rank or equivalents, are now a common scene in the anti-corruption campaigns in Indonesia and China, but there had not been a single “tiger” or “crocodile” hauled to court and successfully prosecuted for corruption in Malaysia in over three decades.

All Malaysians should be concerned that from these trends, Malaysia runs the risk of being overtaken by both Indonesia and China before 2020 in the annual TI CPI both in ranking and score unless Malaysia quickly buck up and show its seriousness on the anti-corruption front.

Suddenly, there seems to be a possibility that Malaysia’s anti-corruption campaign may enter a new era.

Is the country’s anti-corruption campaign on the eve of a new scenario, with “tigers” or “crocodiles” hauled to court and prison in Malaysia, like in China and Indonesia?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah