As the general Malaysian population rejoiced upon Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s desire to curb corruption in his country by reducing red tape and bureaucracy, it is made more apparent that corruption itself has already become a serious part of Malaysian politics. As Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community had previously stated, 4% of the of the Malaysian gross domestic product or GDP is lost to these under-the-table transactions, amounting to a whopping RM 47 billion annually. Such a huge sum could have been used to fund beneficial projects to the less privileged and the lower middle class, comprising roughly about 40% of the country’s population.
What might have caused the propagation of these unjust acts? Over the course of several years, the Malaysian national policy has continuously evolved in a discreet manner, bloating the public sector with adverse effects on the private sector. This sorry state of the country’s affairs has led to a notable decline in trade, due to the confusing procedures and requirements necessary to start up and operate a business. Alternatively, several people have resorted to bribing government officials just to escape the tedious paperwork, resulting in money going down the drain and straight into corrupt officials’ pockets, straining the national budget and the country’s ability to pay off its outstanding debts in the World Bank. Now that the current Malaysia government is eyeing a higher Corruption Perception Index or CPI from the country’s current 62nd place to the 30th spot, the prime minister is challenged more than ever to put an end to this nightmarish cycle. It is worth noting that in the previous year, Malaysia only earned a 47 out of 100 rating for the said index, which was unfortunately deemed to be below average when compared with other countries.
So what are some of the ways the current Malaysian government can employ to curb this threat? One could be through reducing the number of procedures needed to register or renew all sorts of licenses. By employing fewer civil servants, the possibility for more expensive bribes is significantly lessened due to easier detection. Another way is to make government-linked companies more open to collaborations with both private domestic and foreign enterprises to encourage friendly competition and boost the local economy. This will create more job opportunities for the unemployed and promote free-thinking entrepreneurs since most of their actions will not be restricted anymore by the authorities. Hopefully, with these countermeasures, business approval processing time can be reduced by leaps and bounds. Still, enforcing major changes in a country will need cooperation from both sides. Since the administration has already expressed sincerity to resolve the situation, the entire Malaysian populace must also step up to the challenge by recognizing their responsibilities. Closely following the law and not giving in to the temptation of finding an easy way out are among the few examples the ordinary Malaysian citizen can do to show support to the current government’s cause. Only by working hand in hand, an entire nation be truly freed from the stifling bounds brought about by corruption.