The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) is deeply concerned that the national anti-corruption plan for 2019-2023 (NACP) has been sidelined once and for all, following the 19 May statement from the prime minister introducing MyGovernance, a new plan to institutionalise good governance principles and practices in government agencies.
According to the statement, MyGovernance aims to improve and strengthen the capabilities of public service delivery toward achieving the national vision, as well as to address the weaknesses of governance in government agencies and statutory bodies. A new committee will be formed to develop this plan.
The statement also provided status updates on the Political Financing Bill, efforts on the separation of powers between the public prosecutor and the attorney general, and the role of the National Anti-Financial Crime Centre in managing seized and forfeited assets.
However, the statement was notably silent on the NACP. This is despite the fact that all the initiatives mentioned by the prime minister overlap with existing NACP initiatives. What has happened to such an important pillar of national anti-corruption efforts?
The NACP is a comprehensive five-year plan that was developed through numerous consultations between the government, enforcement agencies, experts and members of civil society. C4 Center was part of the drafting committee and can attest to the painstaking research and consultations that took place to see the nation’s first ever anti-corruption plan take force.
Launched on 29 January 2020, the policy outlined 115 anti-corruption initiatives to be implemented by 2023 under six priority areas: political governance, public sector administration, public procurement, legal and judicial, law enforcement and corporate governance.
However, its implementation has been riddled continually with questions about whether the government has even taken its own policy seriously. Shortly after its launch, the Perikatan Nasional government came into power through the Sheraton move. Despite comments assuring the continuance of the policy from the then prime minister, Mahiaddin Yasin, a mid-term review report on the NACP published in May 2021 showed insignificant progress on the NACP’s timeline.
In March this year, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob again reiterated the government’s commitment to implementing the initiatives under the NACP, following the nation’s serious plunge in the Corruption Perception Index, where Malaysia fell five spots to number 62.
However, with one year left for the policy and many initiatives still uncompleted, why is an entirely new committee being set up to achieve exactly the same goals as the NACP, which has been in place for three years? Is there really a need for another round of research on the same issues that have been discussed for several years – or is there simply no real political commitment to see this plan through?
It appears that the NACP has been a victim of changes in government policies brought on by several changes in government over the past few years. This should not have been the case. Malaysia’s endemic corruption problems will not and cannot be resolved over the course of one term of administration.
For the country to truly witness success against corruption, it is imperative that successive governments adopt and implement long-term national anti-corruption policies, especially one as comprehensive as the NACP.
Anything less than this betrays a complete lack of seriousness and understanding in addressing the manifold challenges of corruption and governance that plague our country.
With this, C4 Center calls for:
- Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to immediately issue a clarification on the status of the NACP under its administration
- The National Centre for Governance, Integrity, and Anti-Corruption (GIACC) to issue an update on the progress of the NACP in terms of initiatives completed and an assessment of its impact
- The government to ensure that all 115 initiatives outlined by the NACP are completed by the end of the policy’s timeline in 2023 and for work to begin on a subsequent five-year national-anti corruption plan
- The government, including the Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Centre and other relevant bodies, to hold update meetings with civil society so that research on political financing and the separation of powers between the public prosecutor and the attorney general can be exchanged, to cut any delays in implementing these critical reforms.
– C4 Center