Azam Baki, chief commissioner of Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), said Thursday (July 21st) that the findings of Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) were not based on evidence. evidence and pointed out that the index was only a “perception” measure that does not necessarily reflect reality, among other comments.
The Center for the Fight against Corruption and Cronyism (Centre C4) expresses its surprise at these statements.
Transparency International released its 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index earlier this year, in January, and has done so every year since 1995.
The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories around the world according to their perceived levels of corruption in the public sector on a scale of 0 (very corrupt) to 100 (very clean), based on composite comments and ratings from experts and business leaders from international financial institutions. and banks.
Its methodology has also been independently audited and its results endorsed by global stakeholders such as the UN and the International Monetary Fund.
The CPI is an important tool for foreign investors in assessing the suitability of a given country for investment.
For 2021, Malaysia scored 48 points, up from 51 in 2020, to an overall ranking of 62nd out of the 180 countries surveyed.
Claiming that the index measures perception has never been disputed. Transparency International itself stresses that the CPI is not meant to be an absolute measure of corruption within entire nations and their societies and certainly does not serve to paint a complete picture of the state of corruption in countries studied.
However, his statements did not stop there; he also curiously challenged Transparency International’s decision to include other issues such as human rights and business ethics etc, which he claims “not everything is related to corruption” . He also repeatedly stressed the need for “evidence” of corruption before accepting any assessment of the case.
Azam, as chief commissioner, should better explain the value of the CPI rather than discredit the national index, and worse, make statements that disassociate corruption and its links to democracy, human rights and business interests – an extremely superficial view of corruption that reveals a lack of understanding on the subject, and a shocking one coming from a superior graft breaker.
To say that corruption has little to do with human rights and business ethics is simply wrong – the continued harassment of journalists and repression of freedom of expression in an attempt to silence those who reveal Government abuses of power demonstrate a clear link between corruption and human rights, to cite but one example.
This error in judgment on his part perhaps leads to awkward questions. Is his dissociation from corruption and business interests a consequence of his own corporate scandal, perhaps an attempt to downplay his own culpability? One thinks of the revelation at the end of 2021 that Azam held millions of shares in two listed companies.
Or is it just an attempt on his part to discredit the CPI as a whole to save face, in case Malaysia’s CPI score continues to slide?
Notwithstanding the guilt or innocence of any individual in relation to corruption offences, Azam’s insistence on the need for “evidence” in relation to the assessment of corruption is further puzzling.
The nature of corruption is such that related acts such as bribery, embezzlement of public funds and use of public office for private gain (examples of acts assessed by the ICC) are acts committed in secret , which means that obtaining evidence of corrupt practices requires investigations that can only be undertaken by robust and independent enforcement agencies, such as MACC.
If there is a lack of evidence, it follows that there should be more investigations by the agencies that are empowered to do so.
The evidence that Azam values so highly can only be reliably collected by agencies such as MACC and law enforcement, and subjected to proper deliberation in court.
If investigations against powerful officials are dropped without proper justification, if transparency regarding the allocation of public funds is hidden behind secrecy laws, or if the judiciary is unable to act due to ostensible undue influence , these are also strong indicators of corruption.
Azam’s notion of ‘evidence’ versus ‘perception’ is a false dichotomy that Malaysians cannot be brought to internalize, as both aspects are necessary measures to assess and combat corruption.
As Chief Commissioner, Azam should know that the “perception” of corruption that stems from a lack of government transparency or conflict of interest are issues in themselves that do not and should not not require “evidence” to support its problematic nature.
In a climate of political uncertainty and impending general elections, the need for strong institutions that provide oversight and hold accountable politicians in power and out, is more pressing than ever – especially in the wake of a crisis. world health which has only provided more advances for abuse of power and corruption.
While the National Anti-Corruption Plan seems to have been consigned to the past, the MACC should carry the norm to continually affirm its application in policy making.
The C4 Center would like to remind Azam that his duty as Chief Commissioner of MACC is to the public first, and that his interests and the interests of protecting a “national image” are secondary to the fight against Corruption.
We would also be more than happy to meet with Azam and other MACC representatives with the aim of providing resources and materials that demonstrate the close links between corruption, business interests and human rights that will undoubtedly strengthen doubts the work of MACC.
Azam also represents Malaysia as a board member of the International Anti-Corruption Academy and therefore we ask them to provide prompt response and clarification to Azam’s statements.
Finally, it is essential that even the MACC is not allowed to act unchecked and that it reports to and is accountable to Parliament.
As the most important national authority in the fight against corruption, the MACC must not only be transparent and accountable in terms of values, but also convey the “perception” of an organization which defends these values. – Center C4