Malaysia lauded as a model for anti-graft initiatives

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - While Malaysian anti-corruption initiatives have received recognition by a co-founder of a global anti-corruption organisation, the challenge is to produce results to match his positive remarks, opinion leaders said.

In an article published in Huffington Post on June 22, Transparency Inter­national co-founder Michael J. Hershman suggested that Malaysia's model was one that Arab Spring countries and other high-risk nations could look into if they were serious about confronting their corruption culture.

Former Malaysian-Anti Corruption Commission's (MACC) advisory panel on consultation and prevention chairman Tan Sri Dr Ramon Navaratnam said that it was good that Hershman, who is from an organisation with international standing, had given credit to the MACC and quoted Malaysia as a model for anti-corruption efforts.

However, he cautioned that the commendation may become a double-edged sword as expectations might be raised.

He said that while the current perception on anti-corruption efforts was more positive compared to the year before, the country was still not "catching the big fishes".

Asli Centre for Public Policy Studies CEO Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh said there were serious efforts to combat corruption and the Integrity Pledges (that companies are encouraged to sign) were additional mechanisms to reduce corruption.

In his article, Hershman had written that "All too often, anti-corruption efforts are incomplete; they pass laws without sufficient enforcement mechanisms, or they maintain a myopic short-sightedness by failing to create a system that will last by appealing to everyone's self-interest.

"Malaysia's comprehensive anti-corruption system, a core component of the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's governmental and economic reform programme, addresses these common failures a unique way by establishing a permanent agency at the centre."

However, Hershman also commented that the MACC was still a "work-in-progress", and issues like unregulated campaign finance and insufficient freedom of information laws were "imperfections" that needed to be addressed.

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