Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Pledge Needs Persistent, Bipartisan Efforts

IDEAS said it commends the Malaysian government’s proactive approach in strengthening anti-corruption measures through the recently launched National Anti-Corruption Strategies 2024-2028 (NACS) where the initiative represents a significant stride towards combating corruption and promoting transparency as part of the nation’s reform agenda. 

Achieving the ambitious targets set by the NACS demands strong bipartisan political will, tremendous effort, support of the civil service, and a focused approach. It is imperative for political parties across the spectrum to set aside differences and collaborate wholeheartedly in the fight against corruption. To achieve these goals, distractions on issues unrelated to anti-corruption efforts, such as those concerning race, religion, and royalty (3R), must be minimised.

More importantly, rebuilding trust in institutions is imperative to narrow the trust deficit between citizens and government. Enacting a Political Financing Act (PFA), which is included in the NACS, is one such priority. While steps have been taken to kick-start the process, this needs serious political will from the very top. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to pass the PFA before the next election. 

The think tank however noted that it was unfortunate that separating the role of the Attorney General and Public Prosecutor was not included in the NACS, considering how the conflict of interest between the two is one of the main hindrances to fighting corruption. While it said it understands that the government is currently pursuing a study into this matter, it is still unclear whether previously set target timelines will be adhered to, since it is not contained within this important document. 

IDEAS CEO, Dr Tricia Yeoh, stated, “In these next four years, it is crucial for all stakeholders to prioritise the NACS. To do this effectively, we cannot be distracted by racial and religious issues, and all efforts must go into rebuilding trust in our institutions. The MACC found that Malaysia suffered losses over a period of five years between 2018 and 2023 totaling RM277 billion due to corruption. This abominable trend and loss of public funds cannot continue if we are serious in building Malaysia as an attractive investment destination, with strong fundamentals and robust mechanisms in place to combat corruption and mismanagement. Ultimately, it is the Malaysian public that loses the most when corrupt practices go unpunished.”

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