The experts recommended the use of evidence-based surveys to measure corruption in the country, saying the methodology could provide a clearer picture of the seriousness of the situation as well as the efforts made by the authorities to deal with the corruption. problem.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, they said the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) – a perception-based survey – does not reflect the real situation as it has a number of limitations.
On the one hand, said academic Suhaimee Saahar, the CPI focuses only on corrupt practices in the public sector, excluding similar activities that occur in the private sector.
Suhaimee, director of UiTM’s Center for Media and Information Neuroscience at the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, said the scale used to measure corrupt practices has also not been proven by statistical analysis, while the credibility of perception-based surveys is unclear given the varying scores for each. countries which he says do not reflect the government’s efforts to combat this crime.
“That’s why an index produced by an evidence-based investigation is better suited to show the reality of the situation,” he said.
Malaysia recently slipped in the CPI ranking for 2021, falling from 57th out of 180 countries to 62nd.
The country’s score also fell from 51 to 48.
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Azam Baki, however, played down the findings, saying the CPI did not reflect facts and reality.
He also said the anti-corruption agency was working with the UN on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to move to the use of evidence-based investigations.
Criminologist Kassim Noor Mohamed said the joint efforts of MACC and UNDOC were a positive development, as evidence-based investigations were a better methodology than perception-based ones.
He said evidence-based investigations offer more concrete evidence as well as a clearer picture of the corruption situation in a country.
“Evidence-based surveys measure respondents’ experience of corruption,” he said.
“This type of survey produces more accurate data and can be used to develop better interventions.”
But while evidence-based surveys are the best methodology, he said, that doesn’t mean the IPC should be dismissed.
He said the CPI could be used, but not as the primary benchmark. Instead, he said, it should be used to support evidence-based investigations.
“Although perception-based surveys are not as robust, the data can be used to raise awareness in society.
“If it involves research, everything has to be evidence-based. That doesn’t mean we can’t use the IPC, just that it shouldn’t be seen as the holy grail.”
Regarding the perception of corruption in Malaysia, Kassim said that problems often arise when the crime itself takes center stage and not the authorities’ efforts to contain it.
“Take 1MDB, for example – one of the biggest scandals,” he said.
“When we are asked about the case, if we know the details, it gives the impression that Malaysia is a corrupt country just because of this case.
“But in reality, the authorities are investigating and taking appropriate action.”
Kassim said those who frequently challenge anti-corruption efforts in Malaysia might not really understand the investigative process.
“Remember that there are cases that take a long time, and there are cases that need to be prioritized because they involve the public interest,” he added.
“It’s like a visit to the doctor – if the patient is not in critical condition, the doctor will first focus on other patients in more serious condition.”
In terms of economics, Yeah Kim Leng of Sunway University said that although the CPI is based on perceptions, it is widely followed by investors and considered a valid measure.
“This ranking drop will be used as an indication that the government is losing the fight against corruption, which could affect investor confidence,” he said.
“This decline will be used as an indication that the government is losing the fight against corruption and this could affect investor confidence,” he told MalaysiaNow.
Yeah said the government’s priority at the moment would be to provide a more positive image to foreign investors in order to restore their confidence in Malaysia.
“Whether the investigation is evidence-based or perception-based, the government must ensure that the ranking and the score are moving forward,” he said.
“It will show investors that the government is committed to fighting corruption and will get their attention again.”