Transparency International (TI) Malaysia, which commissioned the survey, released its report in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The survey, conducted by Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, involved 1,025 respondents from members of the public and 411 from the corporate sector. Feedback was obtained through questionnaires and phone interviews between Nov 30 last year and Jan 12.
When asked to list the three least transparent government agencies, both sets of respondents cited the police force as the worst offender. Recent controversies surrounding police personnel have worsen public's perception of the agency.
Overall, the majority felt that levels of integrity and transparency in both the public and private sectors have not changed over the last 12 months. Corporate respondents are the most pessimistic.
About 46 percent of the public were optimistic that public-sector integrity would increase in the next 12 months, compared to a paltry 26 percent of corporate sector respondents. Civil servants had the most faith in change, with the unemployed being the most pessimistic.
On our future goals, the score is less than optimistic. It is obvious that the mood of the people is not as upbeat as many politicians wanted us to believe. There is no 'feel good' factor.
As to whether the goals of Vision 2020 can be achieved within the time frame set, members of the public were more positive with 51 percent saying ‘likely’. However, 57 percent of corporate respondents indicated this is ‘unlikely’.
Some areas of improvement:
- A massive 71 percent of corporate respondents and 54 percent of the public described the government procurement process as lacking transparency. We need to implement an open tender system here. The government e-procurement system which I worked on in the late 90's was supposed to play this role.
- 90 percent of the corporate respondents and 88 percent of the public agreed that companies which have failed to deliver on government projects should be blacklisted and prevented from submitting tenders for at least three years.
- More than 70 percent of all respondents agreed that the Anti-Corruption Agency should report directly to Parliament. We need to empower the ACA independent and recruit better people to run it.
- They also gave the thumbs-up to enactment of whistleblower legislation and were of the opinion that a jury system would improve transparency.
It will be a disaster if we do not put our house in order soon enough. Dr Azly Rahman warns, "I think we are turning into the Philippines of Marcos and the Indonesia of Suharto. Or into a Colombia. Or a Nigeria. This is frightening. Especially when the system has evolved into a corrupt one."
(Chart courtesy of Malaysiakini)