"There is no truth. There is only perception." - Gustave Flaubert
|The MACC chief (right) with Tunku Abdul Aziz, who helped found TI-M in 1998|
Dzulkifli Ahmad, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief, said he was rather shocked by the latest Corruption Perception Index issued yesterday by the Transparency International-Malaysia. The report, in a nutshell, perceives corruption in Malaysia as worse in 2017 (the year in review) than in 2016. Read here.
According to Dzul:
“If we based it on the reality of what happened in the country and the actions taken by the MACC, then it (our rank) should be better than 2016.”
But that's the thing that Dzul needs to get used to. The Transparency International-Malaysia's CPI deals with perception. Not reality. And not truth, either. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, when he was Prime Minister, labeled the TM's index as another example of Western cultural imperialism. He labeled a lot of things as such. It did not mean that Mahathir tolerated or encouraged corruption.
|Abu Kassim worked hard to correct perception|
Dzul's predecessor Abu Kassim Mohamed, who now sits on the board of IACA, understood where the TI-M and its CPI were coming from. At a meeting with feared and influential Malaysian bloggers shortly after his appointment as at the MACC boss in 2010, Abu Kassim started the meeting by demanding to know who among the bloggers present, if any, had lately received or paid bribes.
Abu Kassim's charisma was such that one blogger, probably thinking that the MACC chief knew, confessed to having bribed workers from a utility company recently to overlook procedures to get a job done for him.
Thankfully, only one.
Abu Kassim quickly made his point. Almost everyone in the room had been critical of the MACC and the fight against corruption. Newspapers, too, reported rampant and blatant corruption. And TI and Opposition politicians kept talking about poor or worsening perception on corruption in Malaysia. But the reality is, I remember Abu Kassim saying, corruption is not a way of life in Malaysia. "What we have is not a problem with corruption but a problem of perception."
By choice, Abu Kassim spent a lot of his time as MACC chief attending international conferences on corruption because he believed that it was part the key to correcting the negative perception about the country's fight against corruption. I suppose if you look at the CPI during his tenure, you will find that Abu Kassim was quite right.
Therefore, Dzul's "reality of what happened in the country and the actions taken by the MACC" are not enough. In fact, the more actions the MACC takes, the worse the perception might become. As Paul Low, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of integrity and governance, says:
“The high degree of publicity and exposure given by MACC to these cases especially in the last year may have created a more negative perception which could have contributed to the drop in Malaysia’s CPI score and ranking.” - Malaysia's drop in global graft index shocks MACC chief
The irony did not escape Another Brick in the Wall, one of the feared and influential blogger who attended our 2010 closed-door meeting with Abu Kassim (but not the one who confessed to his indiscretion), observes:
"By mentioning NFC in which Rafizi Ramli's recent appeal for prison sentencing was rejected, it proves that TI's perception based corruption index is seriously faulty. The message from TI-Malaysia finding is that perception on corruption worsen when MACC uncover and investigate high profile corruption cases.
"Datok Paul Low proves the point. TI-Malaysia index implies that the countries better perceived in term of corruption are those that cover-up big corruption cases and anti-graft agency should do nothing." - TMI's latest CPI telling MACC not to investigate corruption
|Mejar Huan: Blames Guan Eng for Msia's latest CPI|
Political activist Huan Cheng Guan aka Mejar Huan blames the rise in CPI to the alleged corrupt practices of the states under the Opposition, particularly his own home state of Penang, which has been under the rule of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for 10 years.
Excerpts from his latest FB posting:
|Read Mejar Huan Penang's FULL posting|
Again, that is largely the writer's perception of things. Except, of course, Mejar Huan's last line about Guan Eng refusing to resign. That's reality. That's the truth.