National anti-corruption strategy should be re-assessed, says former chief graft buster from Hong Kong

KUALA LUMPUR: The national anti-corruption strategy and resources should be re-assessed, said a former chief graft buster from Hong Kong.

Noting the "flat-lining" trend of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) based on international reports, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)'s former commissioner Bertrand de Speville (pix) said there is no show of progress.

"Malaysia's fight against corruption hides an uncomfortable reality.

"Although you started your fight against this problem in 1987 and you have been measured on the Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index since 1995, the outcome has been flat.

"From 1987 to the present (30 years) the fight against corruption seems to have been flatlining. Why?" he said, speaking at the Roundtable on Fighting Corruption here today.

Questioning where Malaysia is heading to from here, De Speville said it is a complex problem.

"Is it not time for a root and branch re-assessment of the way the national anti-corruption strategy has been, and is being, carried out?" he said.

Calling it an algorithm of anti-corruption, de Speville outlined seven steps for an effective fight against graft – political will, values set out in law, national strategy, strategy implementation, public support, resources and measuring progress.

He said looking at the MACC's 2015 Annual Report, although demonstrably there is political will, law and strategy in place, there are doubts in the implementing policies.

He also raised a concern on the lack of resources for the MACC to effectively implement its strategy.

"In my experience a government determined to tackle corruption must be prepared to spend up to 0.5% of its recurrent expenditure budget on the fight.

"In Malaysia the MACC's annual budget of RM267 million is a proportion of the government's annual recurrent budget, in other words it's operating expenditure, of RM223 billion is 0.12%.

"That is a long way short of 0.5%," de Speville said.

He has served the ICAC from 1992-1996 and became the advisor to the Council of Europe's Multidisciplinary Group on Corruption from 1997-2003.