The Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) has slammed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Azam Baki for downplaying the country’s ranking on an internationally-recognised corruption index.
On Thursday, Azam questioned the reliability of Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (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.
Labelling Azam’s remarks as a “lapse of judgement”, C4 called for the MACC chief commissioner to better explain the CPI’s value rather than discredit it.
“This is an extremely shallow take on corruption that belies a lack of understanding on the subject and it is shocking coming from the top graft buster.
“Azam’s notion of ‘evidence’ versus ‘perception’ is a false dichotomy that Malaysians cannot be misled to internalise, as both aspects are necessary measures of assessing and fighting corruption,” the NGO said in a statement.
C4 said it was wrong for Azam to state that human rights and business ethics had little to do with corruption.
“He should know that the perception of corruption arising from a lack of government transparency or conflict of interest is problematic in nature and does not need evidence to prove so,” it added.
In a separate statement, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang called for a new MACC chief to prevent the country from falling any further in the CPI.
“The tragedy in the country’s anti-corruption campaign is that the MACC chief commissioner (Azam) does not inspire Malaysians with confidence that he is a symbol of public integrity.
“Especially with his refusal to appear before a parliamentary select committee to clear himself of conflict of interest and integrity allegations,” he said, alluding to allegations that Azam had purchased millions of shares and warrants in public-listed companies.
Malaysia dropped five rungs to 62nd spot out of 180 countries in CPI 2021 after it was placed 57th in 2020.