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LETTER | MACC chief should broaden his perception

LETTER | Since the annual findings of the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index where Malaysia dropped five rungs to 62nd spot out of 180 countries in CPI 2021, it has brought about a controversy and debate in the media on what constitutes perception and what is based on evidence.

This comes to light after the MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki downplayed the country’s ranking on an internationally recognised corruption index.

Azam questioned the reliability of TI-CPI. He said there was little need to take the CPI seriously as it did not reflect the actual level of graft in Malaysia.

He added that several indicators in the survey, such as human rights and business ethics, were not related to corruption.

It is obvious that the MACC chief is not able to see the whole, but instead perceives issues in parts where he separates corruption from larger moral compass such as business ethics and human rights.

The question is, why perception a critical part in anti-corruption drive?

For example, when I perceive a developed city-state like Singapore, what comes to my mind is the legacy of leadership of the late Lee Kuan Yew, who through integrity and honesty, built a cabinet and civil service from the roots that were relatively free from corruption.

The legacy of reigning on corruption is reflected in the current Singaporean leadership where one could observe a constant desire to develop the city-state through system and civil servants of high integrity.

Can we say this about our Malaysian leaders and our civil service system especially those who helmed the country from the 80s? There is a legacy of abuse of power that has continued to this day by manifesting itself in different ways where absolute power within an entrenched system corrupts.

While there may not be evidence in full sense, for positive perception on Singapore, the absents of grand corruption of great proportion in Singapore, like the 1MDB scandal and the rare occurrence of dishonest politics and business dealings as we have in our country, where party hopping and self-enriching business individuals hoping to capitalise on a patronage system, it reveals a clear comparative indicator on how public perception works.

The perception of the common man and women in Malaysia and people from overseas through anecdotal evidence plays a critical part in addressing corruption along with hard evidence.

Therefore, the Association for Welfare Community and Dialogue (Acid) urges the MACC to analyse issues as a whole where every aspect of views of what constitutes corruption and its implications is taken into consideration, so that Malaysia could liberate itself and possibly create a political and civil service system of integrity for the current and future generations.

The TI-CPI is about the integrity of the whole system of political and social economic governance. It cannot be separated into parts or reducing it to mere evidence.

RONALD BENJAMIN is Acid secretary.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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