By Emyr Malik
MALAYSIA’S integrity, quality of public governance, and press freedom have taken a blow under Perikatan Nasional (PN) and the government led by caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
In terms of graft, Malaysia has dropped five spots from the time it was led by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration and now ranks 62 in Transparency International Malaysia’s (TI-M) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2021.
This is the second consecutive year Malaysia has slipped in TI-M’s rankings. In 2020, it ranked 57th out of 180 countries.
For comparison, the country ranked 51st on the CPI for 2019, moving upwards by 10 spots from 2018 when Malaysia was placed at 61.
Both jumps in the CPI ranking have been attributed to PH taking over the administration on May 9, 2018, which saw numerous reforms and criminal cases brought against senior leaders of Barisan Nasional (BN), including former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for his involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
For CPI 2021, TI-M president Dr Muhammad Mohan has attributed the slump in rankings to the government’s lack of political willpower to enact much-needed reforms, including fighting corruption and the tabling of the Political Funding Bill, a proposed law that regulates political donations and the financing of political parties.
The current coalition government under Ismail Sabri is made up of BN and PN component parties following the infamous Sheraton move in 2020.
Media freedom also has not fared better under the BN–PN hybrid administration since 2020.
Malaysia was placed 113 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 world press freedom score.
Although it is a slight improvement from its 119th place in 2021, its overall score deteriorated from 60.53 to 51.55.
Comparatively, in 2019, the country had moved up 22 spots from its 145th place in the previous year.
The climb in press freedom rankings appears to also be linked to PH taking over the Federal administration in 2018.
The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) has also produced its Malaysian Media Landscape Brief 2021 report which details how journalists faced repercussions for reporting political manoeuvers and the use of repressive laws against them.