Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)

Since 1995, Transparency International has published an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ordering the countries of the world according to "the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians". The organization defines corruption as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain"

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) table shows a country's ranking and score, the number of surveys used to determine the score, and the confidence range of the scoring

• The rank shows how one country compares to others included in the index. The CPI score indicates the perceived level of public-sector corruption in a country/territory.
• The CPI is based on 13 independent surveys. However, not all surveys include all countries. The surveys used column indicates how many surveys were relied upon to determine the score for that country.
• The confidence range indicates the reliability of the CPI scores and tells us that allowing for a margin of error, we can be 90% confident that the true score for this country lies within this range.

Rank Country/Territory
1 New Zealand
2 Denmark
3 Singapore (The highest ranking Asian country)
3 Sweden
5 Switzerland
6 Finland
6 Netherlands
8 Australia
8 Canada
8 Iceland
11 Norway
12 Hong Kong (The 2nd highest ranking in Asia)
12 Luxembourg

Corruption Perceptions Index 2009
Regional Highlights: Asia-Pacific
Countries/Territories included: 32

The global financial crisis and political transformation in many Asian countries during 2008 exposed fundamental weaknesses in both the financial and political systems and demonstrated the failures in policy, regulations, oversight, and enforcement mechanisms. These two factors contribute to a decrease in the scores of 13 countries from the 32 countries/territories in the region, along with a reduction in the number of countries that scored above 5 in the 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index(CPI).

Since 2008, the Hong Kong government and the Independent Commission against Corruption have intensified efforts to fight corruption in the financial sector. New regulations were enacted and new tools developed.

In Taiwan, corruption scandals involving former President Chen Shui-pian and his family membersgripped the public and have resulted in convictions. This has not yet been reflected in its 2009 CPI score, which remained steady.

Malaysia is ranked 56, The decline in the CPI score for Malaysia (from 5.1 in 2008 to 4.5 in 2009) may be attributed to the perception that there has been little progress combating corruption and a lack of political will to implement effective anti-corruption measures. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) appears to focus on “small fish” and opposition politicians.

China has launched a sustained anti-corruption drive and intensified a crackdown on corruption in the public sector, investigating and prosecuting ministers, public officials and employees. Corrupt officials above provincial levels were disciplined and preventive measures to deal with stimulus packages to tackle the financial crisis have helped keep China’s score stable in 2009, though still low at 3.6. But it has improved from1.94 to 3.6.

(extract from Transparancy International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2009)

Singapore is reputed to be one of the few countries in the world where corruption is under control. This is due mainly to the strong political will to curb corruption, firm actions taken against the corrupt regardless of their status and background, and the general public who do not accept corruption as a way of life. CPIB(Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, 贪污调查局) was formed by the British colonial government in 1952. It is a government agency in Singapore which investigates and prosecutes corruption in the public and private sectors. Incorporated within the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the Bureau is headed by a director who reports directly to the Prime Minister. CPIB is therefore independent from the Singapore Police Force and other government agencies to prevent any undue interference in its investigations. It also has the upmost right, similar to the Singapore's Internal Security Department, to detain suspects of corrupt practices without law trial. The only weakness for CPIB is that it is under PM's department, it will be seen as weak to handle political corruption, as it is still have influence by the ruling party, as the head will be appointed as PM who will be head for the civil service. Singapore is able to maintain its high ranking in CPI, as the political leaders are clean, and now anti-corruption is their national culture.

Since its inception in 1974, the Independent Commission Against Corruption(廉政公署)has embraced a three-pronged approach of law enforcement, prevention and community education to fight corruption. With the support of the Government and the community, Hong Kong has now become one of the cleanest places in the world. To know how Hong Kong achieved its ranking, visit their official website ( on the history of how ICAC was formed, even their name included the words "Independent Commission", that is why?. The ICAC is independent of the Hong Kong Civil Service. The Basic Law of Hong Kong stipulates that the ICAC shall function independently and be accountable to the Chief Executive. The Commissioner of ICAC is appointed by the State Council of the People's Republic of China, on the recommendations of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

I personally preferred Hong Kong over Singapore, as there is no opportunity for political influence by the Head of civil service, or the leader of ruling party. So their anti corruption agency has all power to investigate on political corruption including that of ruling party( equivalent to the Prime Minister) and the head of civil service, without fear. Hong Kong's organization pattern focus on independence of its anti-corruption agency, with strong statutory law back up.

The Asian countries should follow the effort of Singapore and Hong Kong , how effective statutory law and anti corruption enforcement has help to fight corruption. The point to note is that their Anti-Corruption Commission is highly independence. Except for Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan; the other countries are with low CPI score. The next highest ranking after Japan is Taiwan, with the score of only 5.6, the other Asian countries are below 5.6. The score will be lower, if corruption scandals involving former President Chen Shui-pian and his family is included for 2009. The CPI score of Asian countries is still a long way for improvement.

Corruption investigation needs the backing of strong laws and sufficient resources because it is a difficult crime to investigate , said Tony Kwok Main Wai, former deputy commisioner of the Independent Commision Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong. Tony said anti-corruption organisations should not become a secret organisation or the police and need to have a check and balance in investigative powers to prevent cases of power abuse(source: Bernama, 12-10-2009). Did Asian countries have strong legal backing for anti-corruption?

The Asian Ranking

3 Singapore 9.2 9.0 9.4 9
12 Hong Kong 8.2 7.9 8.5 8
17 Japan 7.7 7.4 8.0 8
37 Taiwan 5.6 5.4 5.9 9
39 Brunei Darussalam 5.5 4.7 6.4 4
39 South Korea 5.5 5.3 5.7 9
43 Macao 5.3 3.3 6.9 3
49 Bhutan 5.0 4.3 5.6 4
56 Malaysia 4.5 4.0 5.1 9
56 Samoa 4.5 3.3 5.3 3
79 China 3.6 3.0 4.2 9
84 India 3.4 3.2 3.6 10
84 Thailand 3.4 3.0 3.8 9

Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff
Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff, creator of the Corruption Perceptions Index, will no longer publish the landmark corruption ranking, he said in an email to the Transparency International network this week. Lambsdorff wrote: "TI-S will try to continue somehow with a substitute for the CPI. Even though most of them are rather new to the debate, they will try to make the new product look like the old one. This is time for me to let them go their way."

The Corruption Perceptions Index was first published in 1995, and aimed to create a ranking of "the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians." The CPI, alongside the World Bank Institute's similar effort, is widely credited for forcing the issue of corruption into high level international discourse in the 1990s. It has also faced criticism aimed at its methodology and uses.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)

In 2008, the Malaysian Government and Parliament had agreed that a MACC be established in order to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of (its) anti-corruption efforts as well as to improve perception of independence and transparency of the functions of the Commission. The MACC would be simultaneously sustained by check and balance mechanism in ensuring that the Commission operates in line with national laws and the aspiration of the society.

MACC Malaysia is one of the organizations under the Prime Minister’s Department. Even though MACC Malaysia is under the Prime Minister’s Department, it is just for the reason of finance and staffing only. The everyday business of MACC Malaysia is being carried out freehandedly and autonomously by the officers under the supervision of the Chief Commissioner without interferences from any other party.

MACC Malaysia is headed by the Chief Commissioner who has been bestowed by his majesty the Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agong under section 3(2) Anti-Corruption Act 1997 upon the advice of the Honorable Prime Minister of Malaysia and would be assisted by two MACC Deputy Directors General.

(extract from

The decline of Malaysia ranking is in view of poor perception on Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which is attributed to the perception that the commission is not seen to be really independence. As a government agency their governing body is Government of Malaysia, which is controlled and influence by ruling political forces. MACC appear to focus only the small fishes, and petty cases of opposition parties.

Opposition MPs were concerned over the independence of the MACC since it will not have any power to prosecute. A former minister and senior UMNO leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah also hit out at the MACC for investigating minor cases while ignoring major examples of graft. The Teoh Beng Hock case has badly affected the image of MACC in the eyes of Malaysian public.

As a tax payer, we are ashamed that the ranking of CPI has fallen, and we are behind many Asian countries; Sungapore, Hong Kong,Japan, Taiwan, Brunei, South Korea, Macao, and even Bhutan. The sad thing is our CPI score is only 4.5......It was the worst ranking, in 2001 Malaysia ranked 36th with score of 5, why are we not improving.....but declined... Our tax monies are wasted and got into the pockets of corrupted people, at the time when the world is facing global financial crisis, at the time the country need badly the development fund.

This corrupted people should be seriously dealt with, may be we should followed the policy of China....the highest penalty should be death sentence for corruption or at least life imprisonment. The punishment for the corruption cases are light with no deterrent capability.

The MACC should not be a government agency, it should be an fully independent commission under the parliament or the King. The MACC should have the tooth to go after the corrupted politician of ruling parties, and high ranking government servants. MACC should then be ready for the big fish.....

Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal(where costs had dramatically risen from an estimated RM1.1bil to RM4.7bil, and may balloon further to RM12.5bil.), Lingam video clip" case(The judicial corruption), 2008 Auditor-General's Report,RM32.4 million contract for flowers and plants to decorate the City Hall's office tower, RM30 million to buy used trains, 1000 RapidKL's buses costing RM500 million had been left to rust, double-track railway project which costs RM1.43 billion higher that the worth of the original contract...... the former MB's residence.... the big fish......

The high cost building of many offices of government department and agencies(both head office and state offices), the land approval(alienation of land for development),the timber concession, the award of government contracts, the related parties transaction(Association under MB's wife, government and its staff cooperatives, ruling party's business venture, etc)...........there are many loopholes for corruption and all our tax monies are wasted many more remained unknown.... the potential big fishes.......

The lack of action that has been taken despite the Auditor-General's annual report which highlighted extraordinary public fund abuses, case like PKFZ, which had been highlighted by the previous auditor general reports, yet the cost was escalated without any investigation by MACC... an example of big fish overlooked by MACC.....which the tax payers and citizen do not understand.......

Why waste our resources on small fishes when there are so many big fishes around; MACC should failed the KPIs for not capable to allocate its resources to meet its objective...

.... and we still have no resources to touch on private sector corruption; the business sector, the charitable and non-profit organization, the NGOs, religion institution......which derived their income from donation and fund. Are they accountable for the public fund abuse? Can the CEO of non-profit organization living a life like a millionaires? The public and MACC should be aware of National Kidney Foundation Singapore scandal, Ven. Shi Ming Yi(释明义)& Ren Ci Hospital case in Singapore; and aware of private sector corruption before it is too late. (Note: On October 7, 2009, Ming Yi was convicted of four charges of conspiracy, misuse of funds and forgery. It was revealed in the court that Ming Yi bought luxury cars, race horses, country club membership in Perth, Western Australia and lived in lavish lifestyle, an unusual trait amongst Buddhist monks. Ming Yi is set to be sentenced on 21 November, where Ming Yi faces seven years in prison and possible removal from the Buddhist sangha. Source: wikipedia)

Furthermore, if MACC is a government agency, it is not free from the influence from the civil services, their head, the ruling parties. They will always be perceived as biased if they investigated on political corruption, especially on opposition parties.

That is the reason the citizen want an independent, strong and clean MACC.....without fear and favour....

Related articles:

1. Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission,
2. Official website of Transparency International,
3. Ku Li slams MACC, says witnesses shouldn’t end up in coffins ,,Malaysian Insider. 2009-02-22.
4. Corruption Perceptions Indexes,
5. LEVELS OF CORRUPTION IN MALAYSIA : A COMMENT ON THE CASE OF BUMIPUTRA MALAYSIA FINANCE, by R.S. Milne, ASIAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION. This is an interesting article on famous BMF case, if you are interested in the case.
6. Eradicating Corruption—The Singapore Experience(2000), by Mr. Muhammed Ali,Acting Assistant Director Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, Singapore; Presentation Paper for The Seminar on International Experiences on Good Governance and Fighting Corruption , February 17, 2000
7.CPIB( The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau) official website:
8. National Kidney Foundation Singapore scandal,
9. Shi Ming Yi,
10. CORRUPTION PREVENTION - THE HONG KONG EXPERIENCE(2000), by Thomas Chan, Director, Corruption Prevention, Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong,
11. The official web sites of ICAC(The Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong) ,
12. Independent Commission Against Corruption (Hong Kong),

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