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I have just returned from this year’s Transparency International (TI) Annual Members Meeting (AMM) held in Putrajaya, Malaysia from the end of August.
The AMM was held during the week of Merdeka, a celebration of Malaysia’s independence from colonial rule in 1957. Amidst the Malaysian flag-draped buildings and the smoky atmosphere from burning across the way in Indonesia, allegations wafted of the Prime Minister’s unanswered questions, centring on the disappearance of USD 700 million.
Ranked at 50th, tied with Georgia and Samoa on the Corruptions Perception Index (CPI), Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world that explicitly uses the CPI to set the key performance indicators for its anti-corruption agency (MACC). It has set out steps to raise its score from 52 to 70 so it can improve its ranking to 25th.This is consistent with words used in the statement of the founding father of the nation, Abdul Rahman, “integrity” and “honesty”.
As has become the tradition over the past nearly two decades, TI’s AMM was followed by the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC).
In his IACC opening address TI Chair José Ugaz had graphic examples of impunity. Not only through the actions of the Malaysian Prime Minister, but also of the customs interference by the Guatemalan President and the fleeing of the President of the Ukraine to avoid prosecution for stealing at least $350 million, leaving behind a mansion with a zoo and a full-sized Spanish galleon.
As José noted “… too many corrupt politicians and business people use shell companies to conceal their money. This is why ….[there is a] need for public registers of beneficial ownership.”
Sir Anand Satyanand attended his first TI Advisory Council meeting.
I was joined at the AMM and IACC by TINZ Director Josephine Serrallach and Executive Officer, Lynn McKenzie. We led a successful campaign to include a strong prevention approach in TI’s 2020 strategy. Research shows prevention is the best antidote to corruption.
Meantime, submissions to the New Zealand National Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership closed at the end of August with very few submissions.
While citizens demonstrate in Brazil, Guatemala, Ukraine and Malaysia about what they don’t like about their governments, an opportunity has been lost for people here to specify what they would like from ours.
Suzanne Snively, Chair
Transparency International New Zealand Inc.