Police, Politicians Seen as Malaysia’s Most Corrupt in Survey

The police and political parties are perceived by Malaysians to be the country’s most corrupt institutions, according to a Transparency International survey.

The Berlin-based advocacy group found 12 percent out of 1,000 people polled between September and March had personally experienced police bribery in the past year. The poll also found 8 percent had encountered graft in the judicial system.

The findings put further pressure on Prime Minister Najib Razak to follow through on his general election pledge to tackle corruption. While Malaysia moved to 54th from 60th place among 176 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index last year, it was ranked last for bribery among 30 countries surveyed.

“The government must uphold rule of law without fear or favor,” Akhbar Satar, president of the Malaysian branch of Transparency International, told reporters today in Selangor, outside of Kuala Lumpur. “The lack of big fish convictions continues to be a concern.”

A separate survey by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research ahead of Malaysia’s May election found graft to be a more pressing concern among voters than taming inflation or boosting foreign investment. After being returned to power, Najib responded by recruiting Transparency International Malaysia’s former president Paul Low to his cabinet as a minister overseeing the war on corruption.

Since first becoming prime minister in 2009, Najib has speeded up corruption cases to clear a backlog and used public humiliation with an online gallery of those convicted, D. Ravindran, head of anti-corruption at the government’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit, said in March. A Whistleblower Protection Act was passed in 2010, government contracts are now published online and companies that bid for projects are asked to sign integrity pacts, he said.

Transparency International’s latest survey found the most common reasons for bribe-paying where to speed things up and because it was the only way to obtain a service.

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