Corruption in Malaysia

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Fighting Corruption in Malaysia SPA 501 FIGHTING CORRUPTION IN MALAYSIA A government, for protecting business only, is but a carcass, and soon falls by its own corruption and decay ~ Amos Bronson Alcott Corruption had always been a thorny issue for any government in the world. To a certain extent, the rate of corruption is considered as an indicator of how clean a particular country is. The level of corruption, or more accurately, the perceived level of corruption of a certain country is considered a deciding factor in determining a country’s good standing, as well as it’s earning, which is translated into the GDP and FDI figures. In short, corruption undermines good governance, distorts public policy, leads to misallocation of resources and hurts economic growth. (Bardhan 2003; Rose-Ackerman 2004) Before progressing further into the discussion of fighting corruption in Malaysia, it would be prudent to attempt to give a brief definition of what corruption really is. Various definitions had been given by numerous scholars on the concept of corruption. Deciding on a particular definition while rejecting the rest is not the intent of this paper. However, upon scrutinizing several concepts, it can be said that most, if not all definition of corruption agrees on 3 main ideas, namely; 1) It is an abuse of power, perpetrated by a person(s) in power 2) It is done for personal gain, in monetary or other forms 3) The effect would prove detrimental to the organization, or in a broader sense, to the country. Scholars who are writing about corruption in governments usually add a fourth criterion; “the abuse of public office, for private gain” (World P a g e |1

Fighting Corruption in Malaysia SPA 501 Bank, 1997a: 12). A unifying and somewhat concise definition is perhaps given by United Nation Development Programme, UNDP; “the misuse of public power, office or authority, for private benefit through bribery, extortion, influence peddling, nepotism, fraud, speed money or

embezzlement (UNDP 1999:7). This paper would focus on the level of corruption in Malaysia, using the definition by UNDP as a basic guideline. As it is very difficult, if not impossible, to measure actual corruption accurately (Quah,1999), several indicators would be used to gauge the level of corruption in the country. This paper would make use of reported cases and tried cases as published by the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission), as well as the index and ranking of Malaysia based on the CPI (Corruption Perception Index) and GCB (Global Corruption Barometer) published by Transparency

International. These data would be representative of the trend of corruption level in Malaysia, by comparing data from the domestic as well as the international agencies. The first part of the paper, which focuses on the perceived corruption level in Malaysia, would also study the nature of corruption. As noted by Caiden (1981), corruption in a nation falls under two categories; whether corruption is a fact of life, or a way of life. The difference of the two would determine how rampant corruption is in the country. The type of corruption, whether grand of petty, would also be discussed, as they contribute to the total corruption perception of the country. Grand corruption refers to corrupt practices by political masters and senior civil servants, usually resulting in large international bribes and

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Fighting Corruption in Malaysia SPA 501 hidden overseas, offshore accounts. Petty corruption is practiced by junior civil servants who demand bribes to perform favours (Pope, 2000). The second part of the paper would focus on the initiatives taken by the government to combat corruption. Leslie Palmier (1985) had outlined three important root causes of corruption in public offices, which are opportunities, salaries and policing. The initiatives and strategy taken by the government would be studied according to these root causes, while the measure of...
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