Make the MACC truly independent and give out all public contracts via published open tender to demonstrate the government’s commitment in fighting corruption

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 4th of December, 2014

We welcome the news that Malaysia’s ranking and score in the 2014 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has improved from 53 in 2013 to 50 in 2014 (ranking) and from 50 to 52 (score). This is a marked improvement from Malaysia’s CPI ranking and score in 2011 of 60 and 4.3 (out of 10), respectively.

Credit has to be given to the Fighting Corruption National Key Results Area (NKRA) team under the Government Transformation Program (GTP), the 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 Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) as well as the many elected representatives at the state and federal levels for their hard work and contributions in putting the spotlight on government corruption and finding ways to reduce it.

But we should not be satisfied with the improvement in the CPI 2014 ranking and score. 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.

In order to demonstrate its political commitment to fighting corruption, the government should prioritize increasing the independence of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and to significantly increase transparency for government contracts.

Firstly, MACC’s independence must be increased by making it into a separate service commission with power to hire (and fire) its own staff, to make it harder for the Chief Commissioner to be removed and for it to be given independent prosecutorial powers with proper oversight including from members of civil society and parliament.

Secondly, all government contracts MUST be awarded via open, competitive tender. If there are cases where a direct negotiation is necessary, the government must EXPLAIN why this is the case. In addition, the terms of the tender and the subsequent contracts must be made publicly available. Right now, only a limited number of directly negotiated contracts are available on the MyProcurement website. In addition, not all open tender results are available online. Most worrying 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 on the basis that the concessionaire holder must be willing to allow the documents to be disclosed. The government should make DISCLOSURE a necessary condition as part of the tender process. All companies who are not willing to have the contracts publicly disclosed should not be allowed to participate in the tender process.

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.

Finally, I call upon all elected representatives, NGOs and members of the public who care about fighting corruption to participate in Transparency International Malaysia’s “Walk Against Corruption” which takes place on the Saturday, 13th of December, at Taman Titiwangsa starting at 7am.[1]