COMMENT | Why would Azam Baki, the chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), denounce the highly regarded Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) by Transparency International? Azam is quoted as stating that since the CPI is based “on perceptions about public sector corruption”, this index “was neither factual nor based on evidence”.
Azam’s statement, coming as it is from the head of the anti-corruption agency, is both embarrassing and outrageous. Azam’s contention was his response to a question about his plans to improve Malaysia’s standing in the CPI. Malaysia had fallen five rungs in Transparency International’s 2021 CPI ranking. This was the second consecutive year that Malaysia had fallen in the CPI rankings.
There is a possible reason for such an inappropriate statement by Azam. When the CPI rankings were released this year, the MACC announced its intention to assess what had contributed to this fall. When doing this assessment, the MACC would obviously have considered the method employed by Transparency International to measure corruption in a country.
When Transparency International prepares the CPI, it evaluates a government’s ability to contain corruption in the public sector and if public officials disclose their finances and potential conflicts of interest. The CPI also appraises if a government can prevent bribery and whether legal protection is provided for people who report cases of corruption.
A review of events in Malaysia over the past six months would indicate that the government has fared badly on all these...