By Trinna Leong
There is a sharp drop in the number of Malaysians who are confident of the government's anti-corruption efforts.
This finding by Transparency International paints a troubling picture for the Najib administration and the latest bout of bad news for the beleagured Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
The latest survey showed that police and political parties were perceived to be the two most corrupted institutions.
Police hit the corruption scale at 4.0 while political parties registered 3.8, with 5 being extremely corrupt.
The survey also showed that Malaysians are losing confidence in the government's efforts to fight corruption.
The last survey conducted in 2010 showed that 49 per cent of the 1,000 Malaysians polled believed that the government was successful in combating corruption.
The figure, however, dropped to 31 per cent this year.
"Sometimes implementation by the government takes time," said Datuk Akhbar Satar, the president of TI-Malaysia chapter, in response to the drop in public confidence.
"Corruption goes on because the public is still willing to give bribes."
Akhbar, however, added that only three per cent of the people surveyed paid bribes in the last 12 months, a figure that he insisted is still lower than neighbouring Thailand (18 per cent), Indonesia (36 per cent) and Philippines (12 per cent). Malaysia recorded an even lower figure in 2011 at 1.1 per cent.
“Malaysia is in the 3 per cent bracket group with Norway, New Zealand and Canada,” added Akhbar.
This year’s TI Global Corruption Barometer Survey polled 107 countries globally.
The poll by the Malaysian arm was outsourced to TNS Malaysia and carried out between September 2012 and March 2013 via a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI).
Malaysians were also asked if they believed that the level of corruption had increased, with 39 per cent agreeing, compared to 37 per cent in 2011.
“This is just the public’s perception,” he said.
Akhbar, a former official with the MACC, was elected as president on May 24 after former president, Datuk Paul Low, left to take up the post of Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
The announcement came about amidst internal politics within the organisation, following Low’s departure.
Today’s press conference was disrupted when an exco member stopped outgoing secretary-general Josie Fernandez from offering comments on the survey.
“All statements by Josie are not sanctioned by TI,” said Mejar Rozni Hashim.
Comments by Fernandez, however, brought up the irregularity between the low petty corruption figure and the public’s low confidence in the government.
“The three per cent and the 31 per cent doesn’t match up,” said Fernandez.
“I believe that the statistics reflect the government’s inability to efficiently deliver service to the people,” added Fernandez.
Fernandez highlighted the chain of reaction that caused bribery within public institutions to exist.
“The reason for bribery is because people need to pay to get service (fast).”
“Singapore performs better because they are efficient in delivering services. There’s no need for the people to resort to bribery,” quipped Fernandez.
The public’s lack of trust toward political parties was attributed by the heightened attention the parties received in the run-up to the last polls.
“The survey was done before the elections so people probably perceived that corruption was high,” said the watchdog’s new secretary general, Loi Kheng Min.
Loi reiterated that it was a qualitative survey on the public’s perceptions, thus it is difficult to determine reasons behind the figures.
However, the credibility of the Malaysian chapter of Transparency International as a non-partisan organisation is now questioned by Fernandez.
“You have the NKRA (National Key Results Areas), MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) and Pemandu (Performance, Management and Delivery Unit) here. Is this still an NGO?” asked Fernandez.