Public perception towards corruption in Malaysia remains unchanged since 2005 with at least 77% of Malaysian voters this year agreeing that corruption in the country is serious, according to a recent Merdeka Center survey.
The survey done jointly with BFM Radio for World Anti-Corruption Day yesterday showed this perception appeared unchanged compared to similar polls conducted in August 2005 and June 2012 which found 76% and 78%, respectively, saying that corruption was seriously prevalent.
The survey found that 49% of Malaysians report that corruption had increased, 20% felt it had remained unchanged while 21% felt it had decreased compared to one year ago, Merdeka Center said in a statement released today.
The same survey also saw a majority, or 56%, of Malaysians perceiving the government’s fight against corruption left much to be desired despite recent successes by the anti-corruption commission.
These views were more apparent among younger voters and those with Internet access.
Reflecting upon the recently released Auditor-General’s report, the survey found that Malaysians were split, where 51% felt that the report was not taken seriously while 39% felt otherwise.
Again, these views were more prevalent among younger voters.
But the survey found that 67% of Malaysians felt that it was possible for ordinary citizens to make a difference in combatting corruption.
This sentiment was particularly strong among rural and low-income households.
The survey was carried out by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research between November 26 and December 5, 2014. For this survey, 1,019 registered voters comprising 61% Malay, 30% Chinese and 9% Indian respondents were interviewed by telephone.
Respondents were selected on the basis of random stratified sampling along ethnicity, gender and state of residence. The interviews were carried out in the preferred language of the respondents.
The survey also found that 41% of respondents felt paying bribes was aimed at speeding things up, while another 28% felt it was the only way to obtain services.
Sixteen percent felt bribes are categorised as “gifts, or to express gratitude” while 15% felt it was to obtain cheaper services.
The report flies in the face of Putrajaya’s claims that stringent anti-graft practices put in place had contributed to Malaysia’s three-spot leap on Transparency International’s 2014 corruption perception index (CPI) to 50th spot.
Malaysia ranked 50th among 175 countries which participated in the 2014 CPI. Last year, it ranked 53 out of the same number of countries in the index.
Score-wise, Malaysia moved up two points to 52 from 50 last year. On the CPI, a score of 0 is “highly corrupt” and 100 is considered “very clean”.
Putrajaya’s efficiency unit Pemandu’s Anti-Corruption National Key Result Area director Ravindran Devagunam had attributed the rise in CPI scores to the collective effort of various parties, including the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), police and other enforcement agencies in combating corruption.
He noted the formation of the Integrity and Standards Management department, as well as the introduction of integrity testing this year for hiring and promoting police personnel as a “game-changer”.
“We are beginning to make headway into systemic issues with the view of curbing corruption at its source.
“Moving forward, we will be working with more enforcement agencies to replicate the Integrity Testing initiative. We hope to see our frontliners perform with the highest integrity,” he said.
Another factor which contributed to Malaysia’s improved performance was the move to table the Auditor-General’s Report three times a year in Parliament, as opposed to only once previously.
This, said Ravindran, had contributed to the perception that there was increased transparency demonstrated by the government, coupled with the steps taken by the chief secretary-general to the government and his secretaries-general to engage the media on issues highlighted in the report.
Moreover, there was also prompt follow-up actions by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and relevant enforcement agencies on the issues highlighted in the report.
“This is the best score we’ve achieved over the past 10 years, however we will not rest on our laurels and, moving forward, we need to make a steep change in delivery to further improve our rankings.
“This will require sustained commitment from all stakeholders until we achieve our target to have Malaysia occupy the top 30 ranking by the year 2020,” he added. – December 10, 2014.
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