The Malaysian Insider 29 April 2014

Most Malaysians are sceptical of Putrajaya’s efforts to eradicate corruption and practise integrity despite its efforts to pursue such an agenda, an analyst told a forum today.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) chief executive officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan (pic) said most people were convinced that corruption and abuse of power were still a critical issue in Malaysia despite the government’s initiatives to work on them.

“Corruption is still an issue. So, despite the government’s initiatives, people still feel the country is corrupt.

“There is great scepticism of how serious the government is in pursuing this,” he said at a forum on integrity at the Malaysian Institute of Integrity in Kuala Lumpur.

He said the high level of scepticism of the government’s efforts indicated that it was because there were no real efforts to actually eradicate corruption within the government and its departments and agencies.

“It is just like when the government talked about moderation and set up the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM), which is a very good initiative to take the moderation agenda to an international level,” Wan Saiful said, referring to the think tank mooted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2010.

“But people are making jokes about GMM. They are saying, why promote moderation outside Malaysia when there are extremists in the country that the government is not doing anything about?”

Malaysians, he added, are tired of politicians from both sides of the divide who demand accountability but were corrupt themselves.

Other panelists of the forum included Media Prima chairman Datuk Johan Jaafar and the Danish Ambassador to Malaysia Nicolai Ruge, who said an inclusive political culture was one of the reasons why Denmark had the lowest corruption level in the world.

Denmark tied with New Zealand to take the number 1 spot as the least corrupt countries in the world in last year’s Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, scoring 91 out of 100 points.

Malaysia scored 50 to rank at number 53 out of 177 countries surveyed.

“It is also because we have strong separation of powers (judiciary and executive) as well as a strong culture of apolitical public administration,” he said.

In his speech afterwards, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of governance and integrity Datuk Paul Low said the people are demanding greater accountability and transparency from the government as there is an increased awareness of corruption.

“Expectations are higher than in the past. Especially when a society is placed in desperation where the livelihood of the people is at risk through political oppression and corruption.

“The people are prepared to go to the streets to express their anger and to rise up against a failed regime. We have seen this in the Arab Spring uprising, in Greece and recently in Ukraine,” the former Transparency International-Malaysia president said.

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