HSE University Anti-Corruption Portal
Malaysia Adopts an Anti-Corruption Strategy
Natalia Gorbacheva, Vladislava Ozhereleva

Malaysia has adopted the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2024-2028 (hereinafter, the Strategy).

The Strategy is a follow up to the National Anti-Corruption Plan 2019-2023 (hereinafter, the Plan). The document stresses that only 77% of measures adopted by the Plan had been implemented by the end of 2023. At the same time, corruption remains a serious challenge: as per the findings of a nation-wide survey conducted by the Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia in 2023, 41% of respondents agreed that the level of corruption was alarmingly high, while 69% of respondents believe that the level of corruption increased if compared to the previous year. The public sector remains the most vulnerable to corruption (65%), in particular the area of administration (36% in the years 2019 through 2023), law enforcement (24%) and procurement (24%), according to the statistics of disclosure of information on corruption offences.

Due to this fact, the Strategy pays particular attention to enhancing the effectiveness of public and corporate administration, as well as to promoting such integrity principles as:

  • Transparency that increases public trust in public bodies;
  • Increased responsibility of the heads of public bodies for the decisions made;
  • Efficiency and effectiveness of public policy.

The Strategy stresses that the achievement of the set objectives is hampered by a number of problems, in particular:

  • The fact that the Strategy is prevalently considered as a “symbolic” document;
  • The lack of sustained political will to eradicate corruption;
  • Covert influence exercised by high-ranking public officials and other actors on public decision-making;
  • Manipulation of the media, including fake news in the social networks that can be used to disseminate propaganda and disinformation that promote public tolerance to corruption;
  • Lack of respect for ethical norms in public bodies and society as a whole.

In order to define the most effective anti-corruption measures, factual data, findings of public surveys and information provided by stakeholders were analysed throughout the development of the Strategy.

The Strategy covers five key areas:

1. Education and awareness-raising

In this area, the Strategy envisages such goals and objectives as:

  • Promote ethical norms and non-tolerance of corruption, also through digital technologies, in pre-school institutions, primary and secondary schools, in particular, by revising and updating relevant sections of textbooks;
  • Develop extracurricular activities in high schools, vocational training institutions and schools, including thematic ethics and anti-corruption weeks in cooperation with private organisations;
  • Include courses on integrity principles and anti-corruption also with the use of information technologies in the curricula of high schools and vocational training institutions;
  • Organise courses on integrity and anti-corruption for high school educators;
  • Cooperate with civil society organisations in developing educational materials, holding lectures and extracurricular activities aimed at raising awareness about corruption and promoting ethical norms;
  • Assess the effectiveness of relevant educational initiatives in schools;
  • Raise awareness of public officials about management, compliance with the principles of integrity and enhanced fight against corruption.

2. Public accountability

The document defines the following goals and objectives in this area:

  • Adopt an act on public procurement, in particular, the invitation to the organisations that wish to participate in public contracting of over 10,000,000 MYR (roughly 2,000 USD) to confirm compliance of their anti-bribery systems with ISO 37001 standard;
  • Create a single online platform to conduct public procurement developed with the use of advanced information technologies;
  • Revise the requirements to the appointment and dismissal of the chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (hereinafter, the Anti-Corruption Commission) and establish the entity to ensure its functioning (MACC Service Commission);
  • Improve the recruitment system for civil servants;
  • Assess the need to adopt a Governance Act, Parliamentary Service Act, and Freedom of Information Act;
  • Incorporate a code of conduct into the Houses of Parliament (Privileges And Powers) Act 1952;
  • Develop and adopt the law enforcement standards for the governing bodies of the maritime transport;
  • Introduce the rotation of officers in the areas particularly vulnerable to corruption and employ the effects of this practice as a key performance indicator (KPI) for the heads of the respective public bodies;
  • Introduce a single identity document for foreign students to prevent abuse of functions by law enforcement officers;
  • Oblige members of the government and Parliament to declare interests and gifts;
  • Establish regulation of the “revolving door” for civil servants;
  • Exercise constant monitoring of implementation of recommendations of the Auditor-General through a dedicated monitoring panel;
  • Enhance the potential of internal audit in public bodies;
  • Oblige the organisations wishing to participate in public procurement to disclose their beneficial owners;
  • Oblige public bodies and organisations to develop measures to prevent corruption based on corruption risk assessment and with the support of the Anti-Corruption Commission;
  • Revise the provisions on the use of public administration for campaigning for candidates and political parties in elections.

3. Corruption research

In order to enhance the effectiveness of corruption research, the Strategy provides for such goals and objectives as:

  • Make it possible for civil society organisations to exchange expertise on anti-corruption through annual reports and recommendations;
  • Carry out a national study on the areas vulnerable to corruption risks, and an annual national assessment of the level of corruption in the country;
  • Hold annual conferences on anti-corruption research;
  • Establish advisory groups on anti-corruption, including representatives of civil society, indigenous people and business community;
  • Introduce the members of the Interfaith Harmony Council to the implementation of the integrity and anti-corruption plan;
  • Strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations of stakeholders on corruption prevention;
  • Make use of the Corporate Integrity System Malaysia to promote good governance, integrity and anti-corruption principles in the private sector;
  • Engage foreign embassies and representatives of foreign private organisations in anti-corruption activities;
  • Improve the procedure for submitting information to the Anti-Corruption Commission, in particular, by introducing the obligation to inform whistleblowers about the status of processing of their reports;
  • Hold annual meetings of stakeholders with the representatives of the legislative branch.

4. Law enforcement

In order to ensure anti-corruption law enforcement, the Strategy sets the following goals and objectives:

  • Amend the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, in particular, by establishing a dedicated body to accept reports of offences and protect whistleblowers;
  • Provide necessary equipment to the detention centers;
  • Draft a bill on political financing, revise section III of the Election Offences Act 1954 concerning corruption offences;
  • Revisit the spending limits of candidates in electoral campaigns;
  • Impose the obligation to address complaints about the system of provision of public services on Malaysia’s Ombudsman;
  • Explore the possibility to use deferred prosecution agreements;
  • Ensure online broadcasting of court proceedings with regard to corruption cases considered by the Court of Appeal;
  • Incorporate the regulations applied in the ports of entry into law to secure national borders.

5. Incentives

The document defines the following goals and objectives for this area:

  • Provide tax benefits to private individuals and organisations participating in and contributing to the programmes approved by the Anti-Corruption Commission implemented by civil society organisations that have obtained the ISO 37001 certification; consider the possibility to reduce taxes for the companies organising anti-corruption events;
  • Revise the amount of reward paid to the witnesses participating as experts in proceedings concerning corruption offences under the Criminal Procedure (Rates of Payment to Witnesses) Rules 2011;
  • Provide incentives to whistleblowers who facilitate disclosure of offences;
  • Allocate additional funding to local producers to release anti-corruption content under the Film in Malaysia Incentive programme.

The obligation to monitor and assess the effectiveness of implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2024-2028 is imposed on the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Corruption whistleblowers
Corruption measurement
Education and enlightenment
Corruption in public procurement
Civil society
Standards of conduct
Anti-corruption policies and strategies

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