Malaysia performs below average in International Bribe Payers Index

By Alyaa Alhadjri, The Sun

PETALING JAYA (Nov 2, 2011): Malaysia managed a 7.6 score out of 10 in the Transparency International 2011 Bribe Payers Index released today, below the global average of 7.8.

The index, with a score of 10 indicating the perception that companies are unlikely to engage in bribery while doing business abroad, placed Malaysia in 15th position together with Hongkong, Italy and South Africa.

It is based on a survey of 3,000 business executives from developed and developing countries for the index which ranks 28 leading international and regional exporting countries by the likelihood of their firms to bribe abroad.

The countries represent almost 80% of global value in their total outflow of goods, services and investments.

According to the survey, the Netherlands and Switzerland (both with a score of 8.8) shared the honour of having companies which were perceived to be most unlikely to pay bribes abroad.

However, companies from Russia and China, with a combined investment of US$120 billion overseas last year were seen to be most likely to pay bribes.

“One of the key findings of the survey is that bribery between companies across different sectors is seen to be just as common as bribery from firms to public officials,” said Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) president Datuk Paul Low, who launched the report here yesterday in conjunction with the report’s global release.

He noted that the problem is most prevalent in the public works, contracts and construction sector.

“While previous surveys had shown that Malaysian companies were increasingly refraining from bribery in their overseas business, Malaysia’s score for this year indicates that more can be done to improve its standing,” said Low.

“With the tightening of anti-bribery legislations in many countries, there are higher risks for offenders to be caught and charged for corruption,” he warned.

Low said TI-M has, as such, urged the government to:

>> diligently implement the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, including the criminalisation of bribery;

>> strengthen regulatory framework on the private sector to meet international accepted practices of good governance and ensuring compliance through a corporate
integrity system which includes enforcement of anti-bribery policy;

>> amend current legislation to allow prosecution of a company when its employee is prosecuted for corrupt practices; and

>> to impose strong deterrent fines against offenders.

Low urged the government to show strong political will, without fear or favour, to fight corruption, both locally and internationally.