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Idris Jala insists Malaysia on track in graft fight

Idris downplayed Transparency International’s findings.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — Datuk Seri Idris Jala insisted today that the government is still on track in tackling corruption despite Malaysia continuing to score poorly on Transparency International’s (TI) annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) this year.

Idris, the CEO of the Najib Administration’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), downplayed the graft watchdog’s findings, claiming that Malaysia’s CPI score “essentially” remained the same this year and did not reflect the government’s progress in combating corruption.

“Although this score is not quite a case for celebration, it need not be seen as a negative development,” said Idris in a statement today.

In TI’s CPI released on Tuesday, Malaysia’s score dipped further this year, from 4.5 to 4.4 out of 10, with 10 being the least corrupt, after the country experienced its worse ranking ever last year.
The annual TI CPI measures how corrupt a country’s public sector is based on data sourced from 13 different polls and surveys from 10 independent institutions over a period of two years.

The three least corrupt countries in the world were, in order, Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore.
Malaysia’s previous worst scores below 5 were 4.8 in 2000, 4.9 in 2002 and 4.5 last year.
The country’s ranking puts it on par with Namibia and Turkey.

In releasing its report, TI had said the Najib Administration still lacked the political will to weed out corruption and stressed that steps must be taken to tackle problems with implementation.

Despite government efforts to fight corruption, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency’s (MACC) inability to prosecute “big fish,” lack of progress in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) fiasco, inaction by the Attorney-General’s Chambers in the “Lingam tapes” case, and contracts without open tender have continued to haunt public perception.

Idris said today that the CPI had failed to measure the direct impact of action taken to address concerns of the man-in-the-street as the CPI constituent surveys only took views from business people and expert analysts.

“One must recognise that perceptions are based on experience. And since key developments through the initiatives of the NKRA that have taken place have yet to be felt on the ground as they have only taken place within 2010, the perception registered may also be slightly skewed,” added Idris.
The Pemandu CEO claimed that the CPI was not “intended” for gauging a country’s year-to-year progress in fighting graft, and proceeded to list down the government administration’s various achievements.

Among the moves towards improving transparency and curbing corruption, according to Idris, was amending the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), the “naming and shaming” of offenders under the “Convicted Corruption Offenders’ Database” on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)’s website that collates details of convicted corruption offenders, as well as the formation of the  Whistle blower’s Protection Act.

“Among the steps taken by the Government to create greater transparency- 3716 Government contract tender awards are now published in the MyProcurement portal,” said Idris.
But other Cabinet ministers like Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz have admitted that the on-going high-profile scandals such as the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) saga and the Datuk VK Lingam tapes controversy are the main contributors to Malaysia’s CPI plunge.

“The government’s point of view is that we have done what is humanly possible on our part by putting a new Act, we provide good enumeration for the MACC, increased their number.

“Of course when I saw the comment by Paul Low, I agreed with him (that it is about perception) but with PKFZ, it is beyond us now, already beyond us. It’s already in the courts and I believe this is one of the reasons why the perception is going to be negative towards us and there’s nothing we can do,” Nazri told reporters yesterday.

The current PKFZ scandal has seen top officials including former MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and OC Phang being investigated in court.

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