KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4, 2014:

Praising Malaysia’s ranking and score in the 2014 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, opposition MP Ong Kian Ming said the people should not be satisfied with the improvement.

He said much more needs to be done in order to show that the improvement in the ranking and score is not just due to good publicity on the part of the government.

He said in order to demonstrate its political commitment to fighting corruption, the government should prioritise increasing the independence of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

He added that there should be a significant increase in transparency for government contracts.

Malaysia’s ranking improved from 53 in 2013 to 50 in 2014 and from 50 to 52 (score), a marked improvement from Malaysia’s CPI ranking and score in 2011 of 60 and 4.3 (out of 10), respectively.

Ong said credit has to be given to the Fighting Corruption National Key Results Area (NKRA) team under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP).

He said NGOs involved in fighting corruption such as Transparency International, the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), National Oversight and Whistle-blowers (NOW) and the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) should also be credited.

He pointed out that elected representatives at the state and federal levels had also done their bit by putting the spotlight on government corruption and finding ways to reduce it.

“Although all this has had an effect still a lot more needs to be done to fight corruption.”

Ong in his statement said the government can start by increasing MACC’s independence by making it into a separate service commission with power to hire its own staff.

He added that it government has to ensure that it will make it harder for the Chief Commissioner to be removed.

He also called on the government to give MACC independent prosecution powers with proper oversight including from members of civil society and Parliament.

Ong said all government contracts must be awarded via open, competitive tender, adding if there are cases where a direct negotiation is necessary, the government must explain why this is the case.

He said in addition the terms of the tender and the subsequent contracts must be made publicly available.

Ong said it what was most worryingly is how the government continues to protect certain private parties by not willing to publish contracts such as the directly negotiated highway concessions for KIDEX, DASH, WCE, SUKE, SKIP and EKVE or even the tender documents for the incinerator project in Kepong.

He said the excuse given was that the concessionaire holder must be willing to allow the documents to be disclosed.

The DAP Serdang MP said all companies who are not willing to have the contracts publicly disclosed should not be allowed to participate in the tender process.

He said at the end of the day without these and other substantive reforms, the recent improvements in the CPI ranking and scores may prove to be temporary and not convincing to an already sceptical public.

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