Corruption in Malaysia Shows Little Improvement 

(WSJ) – Corruption in Malaysia has barely inched forward over the last year, according to a global anti-corruption index that shows despite efforts by the government to fight graft, Malaysia remains stuck at the halfway point between being highly corrupt and squeaky clean.

Malaysia ranked 53rd out of 177 countries in anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International’s latest corruption perceptions index, with a score of 50 on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being very clean.

This year Malaysia tied with Turkey, and improved by one point over its 54th place ranking in 2012. Regionally it placed 3rd, behind Singapore at No. 5 and Brunei at No. 38, but fared far better than the Philippines (94) and neighboring Thailand (102) and Indonesia (114).

Indonesia’s rank improved by four places, while the Philippines jumped 11 spots to achieve its highest rank since 2004. Over the past year, however, both countries have been embroiled in a series of corruption cases involving past and present lawmakers and other high officials.

In September the Philippine Department of Justice filed graft and bribery complaintsagainst several lawmakers for allegedly misusing public funds – often derisively referred to as pork barrel – intended for roads, bridges and the poor.

Indonesia’s anti-corruption commission, meanwhile, has detained a number of officials, including a top judge and the head of the country’s oil-and-gas regulator for alleged corruption following investigations.

Comparatively, Malaysia has done better. But the small bump in rank also underscores the challenge the Malaysian government faces in cutting corruption in one of Southeast Asia’s most developed economies.