Malaysians must never again allow corruption to permeate all levels in the government

The Chairman of the Council of Elders, Tun Daim Zainuddin, said in an interview two days ago:

“Corruption has permeated all levels in the government. We are now at a crossroad. Our only way forward is to cleanse the system and get rid of this malady that is afflicting this nation. In order to do that, political willpower will be the main criterion for success. And I am confident that this new Pakatan Harapan Government has the gumption to do just that.”

Daim is right and this is borne out by the annual Transparency Interntional (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in the past 23 years.

Malaysia reached its lowest-point in 23 years in TI CPI ranking when it was ranked No. 62 out of 180 countries in the TI CPI 2017, and garnering the lowest TI CPI score of any Prime Minister since the annual TI CPI was started in 1995.

In the first year of TI CPI in 1995, which listed only 41 countries, Malaysia was ranked in the middling position of No. 23 with a score above the midpoint – i.e. 5.28 in a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean).

The TI CPI 2017 is Malaysia’s worst ranking in the 23-year TI CPI annual series and highlights a most shocking fact – that Najib’s nine-year premiership registered the lowest TI CPI ranking and the worst TI CPI score when compared to the two previous Prime Ministers, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah (although with TI CPI 2017 score of 47/100, Najib beat his worst score of 4.3/10 in 2011).

This is illustrated by the following chart on TI CPI 1995-2017:

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 50 (2014) 52/100 (2014) 62 (2017) 4.3/10 (2011)

When the shocking TI CPI 2017 was announced in February this year, I called for heads to roll – involving not only Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge integrity, Datuk Paul Low, the MACC Chief Commissioner, Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad but also the 20-odd members of the five bodies which monitor the MACC, namely the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, the Special Committee on Corruption, the Complaints Committee, the Operations Review Panel, and the Corruption Consultation and Prevention Panel.

No heads rolled in February this year, but with the historic and watershed result of the 14th General Elections on May 9, 2018 which threw out the Najib Government and gave Malaysia a second chance to be “a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world”, there is now a new Government in Putrajaya, a new Attorney-General and a new MCAA Chief Commissioner, and clearly we need new members of the various MACC monitoring and advisory councils.

Let Malaysians prove that that we can firstly, transform Malaysia from a global kleptocracy into a leading nation of integrity by getting to the bottom of the 1MDB scandal – described by the US Attorney-General as “kleptocracy at its worst” - as well as other mega-corruption scandals, ensure that the rule of law is upheld and that justice is done, and secondly, effect structural and institutional reforms as well as mind-set changes throughout our society so that we have a political culture of zero-tolerance for corruption.

This is one important meaning of the May 8, 2018 Malaysian Spring, and why Malaysians, through an independent Parliament, a free and responsible press and a vibrant civil society, must never again allow corruption to permeate all levels in the government in Malaysia.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Iskandar Puteri