The number of Malaysians who answered in the affirmative to the question if corruption has worsened has doubled since 2014, according to a survey.
Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer (Asia Pacific) 2017 found that 60 percent of Malaysians agreed, while 27 percent said the level of corruption remained the same and another 11 percent said it decreased. A further two percent claimed to be in the dark.
This is in contrast to the regional average of 40 percent of respondents who believed the level of corruption is increasing, 33 percent who believed it stayed the same, 22 percent who believed it has decreased, and five percent who did not know.
Previous surveys in 2013 and 2014, saw only 39 percent and 30 percent of Malaysian respondents stating that the level of corruption had increased respectively.
The findings of the latest survey was released by Transparency International – Malaysia president Akhbar Satar at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.
The survey also found that 53 percent of respondents felt the government has been ineffective in combatting corruption, and 41 percent felt the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in particular is performing badly.
The Global Corruption Barometer is different from Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) that was released last month, since it surveys the general public rather than experts, and asks a different set of questions.
For the 2017 Global Corruption Barometer (Asia Pacific) 2017 survey, a total of 16 countries and territories were surveyed, including Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Mongolia, and Hong Kong.
For Malaysia, a total of 1,009 people above the age of 18 were surveyed through face-to-face interviews nationwide, between September 2016 and December 2016.
PM’s office ranked seventh
Despite the ongoing 1MDB scandal, the survey ranked the prime minister and his office seventh in terms of corruption perception. Only 41 percent of respondents perceived it to be corrupt although that is still higher than the regional average of 31 percent.
Instead, the police are most widely perceived to be corrupt (52 percent) for the third consecutive time, followed by tax officials and local government councillors (48 percent each), and business executives (46 percent).
Nevertheless, corruption does not rank high among the people’s concerns.
When asked what is the most important problem that the government should address, a whopping 54 percent said it is the management of the economy.
Only 15 percent opined that corruption should be the government’s top priority, placing it after the economy, wages (37 percent), poverty (25 percent), unemployment (24 percent), and rates and taxes (18 percent). Only crime and security issues (13 percent) ranked lower.
The survey also asked respondents if they had ever paid a bribe, to which 23 percent answered in the affirmative, particularly to the police.
Transparency International estimated that 13 percent of Malaysians have paid a bribe to the police, followed by schools and hospitals (10 percent each). Another nine percent had paid a bribe to obtain identification documents such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and permits.
Of the 23 percent of respondents who claim to have paid a bribe, 59 percent said they did not report the incident, while 32 percent said they did.
However, of the reports lodged, only 23 percent resulted in action taken. Sixteen percent also said they had suffered retaliation or other negative consequences as a result of their reporting.
In interpreting the results, Akhbar cautioned that the respondents may not have necessarily reported the bribe to the MACC, and may have reported to other authorities such as the MACC instead.
Meanwhile, fear of retaliation is the most widely cited reason for not reporting corruption (15 percent).
Twenty-two percent of respondents said they either don’t know how or where to report corruption, while 12 percent said they won’t report corruption because they felt that nothing would be done.
To a question how they can combat corruption, most respondents (22 percent) said there is nothing they can do, while 17 percent said they would refuse to pay bribes and 12 percent said they would report corruption.